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Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?

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  • Severin Borenstein
  • A. Colin Cameron
  • Richard Gilbert

Abstract

We test and confirm that retail gasoline prices respond more quickly to increases than to decreases in crude oil prices. Among the possible sources of this asymmetry are production/inventory adjustment lags and market power of some sellers. By analyzing price transmission at different points in the distribution chain, we attempt to shed light on these theories. Spot prices for generic gasoline show asymmetry in responding to crude oil price changes, which may reflect inventory adjustment effects. Asymmetry also appears in the response of retail prices to wholesale price changes, possibly indicating short-run market power among retailers.

Suggested Citation

  • Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron & Richard Gilbert, 1997. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-339.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:1:p:305-339.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355397555118
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    1. Shepard, Andrea, 1991. "Price Discrimination and Retail Configuration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 30-53, February.
    2. Severin Borenstein, 1991. "Selling Costs and Switching Costs: Explaining Retail Gasoline Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 354-369, Autumn.
    3. Reagan, Patricia B. & Weitzman, Martin L., 1982. "Asymmetries in price and quantity adjustments by the competitive firm," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 410-420, August.
    4. West, Kenneth D, 1988. "Asymptotic Normality, When Regressors Have a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1397-1417, November.
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