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The Equilibrium and Optimal Timing of Price Changes

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  • Laurence Ball
  • David Romer

Abstract

This paper studies the welfare properties of the equilibrium timing of price changes. Staggered price setting has the advantage that it permits rapid adjustment to firm-specific shocks, but the disadvantages that it causes unwanted fluctuations in relative prices and that, by creating price level inertia, it can increase aggregate fluctuations. Because each firm ignores its contribution to these problems, staggering can be a stable equilibrium even if it is highly inefficient. In addition, there can be multiple equilibria in the timing of prices changes; indeed, whenever there is an inefficient staggered equilibrium, there is also an efficient equilibrium with synchronized price setting.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1989. "The Equilibrium and Optimal Timing of Price Changes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 179-198.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:56:y:1989:i:2:p:179-198.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Taylor, John B, 1979. "Staggered Wage Setting in a Macro Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 108-113, May.
    2. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-538.
    3. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1985. "A Near-Rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Inertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(Supplemen), pages 823-838.
    4. Andrew S. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-725.
    5. Matsukawa, Shigeru, 1986. "The Equilibrium Distribution of Wage Settlements and Economic Stability," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(2), pages 415-437, June.
    6. Olivier J. Blanchard & Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, 1985. "Monopolistic Competition, Aggregate Demand Externalities and Real Effects of Nominal Money," NBER Working Papers 1770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Fethke, Gary & Policano, Andrew, 1984. "Wage contingencies, the pattern of negotiation and aggregate implications of alternative contract structures," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 151-170, September.
    8. Laurence Ball, 1988. "Is Equilibrium Indexation Efficient?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(2), pages 299-311.
    9. Gray, Jo Anna, 1978. "On Indexation and Contract Length," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 1-18, February.
    10. Parkin, Michael, 1986. "The Output-Inflation Trade-off When Prices Are Costly to Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 200-224, February.
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