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House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices

Author

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  • Johannes Stroebel
  • Joseph Vavra

Abstract

We document a causal response of local retail prices to changes in local house prices, with elasticities of 15–20 percent across housing cycles. These price responses are largest in zip codes with many homeowners and are driven by changes in markups rather than local costs. We argue that markups rise with house prices because greater housing wealth reduces homeowners’ demand elasticity, and firms raise markups in response. Shopping data confirm that house price changes affect the price sensitivity of homeowners, but not that of renters. Our evidence suggests a new source of business cycle markup variation.

Suggested Citation

  • Johannes Stroebel & Joseph Vavra, 2019. "House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1391-1436.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/701422
    DOI: 10.1086/701422
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian; Modern Monetary Theory
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • R22 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Other Demand

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