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Menu costs and Markov inflation: A theoretical revision with new evidence

  • Ahlin, Christian
  • Shintani, Mototsugu

We revisit a foundational theoretical paper in the menu cost literature, Sheshinski and Weiss (1983), one of the few to treat stochastic inflation with persistent deviations from trend. In contrast to the original finding, we find that optimal pricing in this environment entails using different (s,S) bands in high-inflation and low-inflation states of the world. The low-inflation band is strictly contained within the high-inflation band. This revised solution has very different implications from the original one. Firms are generally risk-loving, not risk-averse, with respect to inflation. An increase in the variance of inflation increases price dispersion when inflation is high and decreases price dispersion when inflation is low. On an aggregate level, this optimal pricing would lead to bunching of prices and non-neutrality of money in the setting of Caplin and Spulber (1987). To test the main finding, we construct an establishment-level dataset from the months surrounding Mexico's Tequila crisis, in 1995. In the high-inflation state, price increases are larger and establishments allow their prices to vary more widely around their respective long-run mean relative prices. Cross-establishment price dispersion is lower, but this result seems due to decreased establishment heterogeneity rather than narrower (s,S) bands. Overall, the evidence suggests that establishments employ wider (s,S) bands in the high-inflation state.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 54 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 753-784

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:54:y:2007:i:3:p:753-784
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  1. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1977. "Inflation and Costs of Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 287-303, June.
  2. Arellano, M, 1987. "Computing Robust Standard Errors for Within-Groups Estimators," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(4), pages 431-34, November.
  3. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Etienne Gagnon, 2007. "Price setting during low and high inflation: evidence from Mexico," International Finance Discussion Papers 896, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Leif Danziger, 1998. "A Dynamic Economy with Costly Price Adjustment," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 83, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  6. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2007. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 171-199.
  7. Eden, Benjamin, 1993. "Inflation and Price Adjustment: An Analysis of Micro Data," Working Papers 94-13, University of Iowa, Department of Economics, revised 1994.
  8. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2007. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does It Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," Discussion Papers 07-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  9. Almeida, Heitor & Bonomo, Marco, 2002. "Optimal state-dependent rules, credibility, and inflation inertia," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1317-1336, October.
  10. Reinsdorf, Marshall, 1994. "New Evidence on the Relation between Inflation and Price Dispersion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 720-31, June.
  11. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1983. "Optimum Pricing Policy under Stochastic Inflation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 513-29, July.
  12. Christopher J. Erceg & Andrew T. Levin, 2001. "Imperfect credibility and inflation persistence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Burstein, Ariel T., 2006. "Inflation and output dynamics with state-dependent pricing decisions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1235-1257, October.
  14. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Arturo Extrella & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1998. "Dynamic inconsistencies: counterfactual implications of a class of rational expectations models," Working Papers 98-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  16. Mariano Tommasi, 1992. "Inflation and Relative Prices Evidence from Argentina," UCLA Economics Working Papers 661, UCLA Department of Economics.
  17. Michael Dotsey & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "State-Dependent Pricing And The General Equilibrium Dynamics Of Money And Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 655-690, May.
  18. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 1997. "Aggregation and Optimization with State-Dependent Pricing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 601-626, May.
  19. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
  20. Eytan Sheshinski & Yoram Weiss (ed.), 1993. "Optimal Pricing, Inflation, and the Cost of Price Adjustment," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262193329, June.
  21. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1991. "State-Dependent Pricing and the Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 683-708, August.
  22. Tsiddon, Daniel, 1991. "On the Stubbornness of Sticky Prices," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(1), pages 69-75, February.
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