IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

The cyclical behavior of prices and costs

In: Handbook of Macroeconomics

  • Rotemberg, Julio J.
  • Woodford, Michael

Because inputs are scarce, marginal cost is an increasing function of output. Diminishing returns, costs of increasing employment as well as the increasing marginal disutility of working when hours worked and effort rise all contribute to make this function steep. Without changes in this function relating marginal cost to output, aggregate output can vary if and only if the markup of price to marginal cost (the inverse of real marginal cost for typical firms) varies. We first study whether, empirically, real marginal cost does rise in cyclical expansions. Average real labor cost is not very procyclical but, for several reasons, marginal labor cost is more procyclical than average labor cost. These include the presence of overhead labor and adjustment costs as well as differences between the marginal and the average wage. These corrections results in procyclical measures of real marginal cost. Measures of marginal costs based on materials costs and inventories also appear procyclical. We show that these procyclical movements in marginal cost may, depending on how costs are modeled, account for a substantial fraction of cyclical output movements. Finally, we survey models of variable markups. These include both models of sticky prices (in which markups vary because firms cannot all costlessly charge the markup they desire) and models in which firms' desired markup varies over time. This set of models allows a rich set of variables to affect output even if these variables do not shift the marginal cost schedule.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P5X-4FPWV0F-S/2/29deed11470b123d7f53e1a1664faa2d
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

as
in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Macroeconomics with number 1-16.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:macchp:1-16
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Marvin Goodfriend, 1997. "A framework for the analysis of moderate inflations," Working Paper 97-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    2. Todd E. Clark, 1999. "The Responses Of Prices At Different Stages Of Production To Monetary Policy Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 420-433, August.
    3. Paul Gomme & Jeremy Greenwood, 1992. "On the cyclical allocation of risk," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 71, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 513-542.
    5. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-73, November.
    6. Steve Ambler & Emanuela Cardia, 1993. "The Cyclical Behaviour of Wages and Profits under Imperfect Competition," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 18, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal, revised Jun 1996.
    7. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Business Cycles and the Relationship Between Concentration and Price-Cost Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
    8. Borenstein, S. & Shepard, A., 1993. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gazoline Markets," Papers 93-22, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    9. Jordi Galí, 1993. "Monopolistic competition, business cycles and the composition of aggregate demand," Economics Working Papers 45, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    10. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 245-73, April.
    11. Robert S. Chirinko & Steven Fazzari, 1993. "Economic fluctuations, market power, and returns to scale: evidence from firm-level data," Research Working Paper 93-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    12. Devereux, Michael B & Head, Allen C & Lapham, Beverly J, 1996. "Monopolistic Competition, Increasing Returns, and the Effects of Government Spending," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 233-54, May.
    13. Benabou, Roland, 1992. "Inflation and markups : Theories and evidence from the retail trade sector," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 566-574, April.
    14. Morrison, Catherine J, 1992. "Markups in U.S. and Japanese Manufacturing: A Short-Run Econometric Analysis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(1), pages 51-63, January.
    15. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," NBER Working Papers 2737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Argia M. Sbordone, 1993. "Cyclical productivity in a model of labor hoarding," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    17. Gary D. Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1987. "Straight Time and Overtime in Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 455, UCLA Department of Economics.
    18. Plosser, Charles I, 1989. "Understanding Real Business Cycles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 51-77, Summer.
    19. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
    20. Satyajit Chatterjee & Russell W. Cooper & B. Ravikumar, 1993. "Strategic complementarity in business formation: aggregate fluctuations and sunspot equilibria," Working Papers 93-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    21. Eichenbaum, Martin, 1989. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 853-64, September.
    22. Klemperer, Paul D, 1987. "Entry Deterrence in Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 99-117, Supplemen.
    23. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1984. "Time-Separable Preferences and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 817-839.
    24. Kimball, Miles S, 1995. "The Quantitative Analytics of the Basic Neomonetarist Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1241-77, November.
    25. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Sticky Prices in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1187-1211, December.
    26. Evans, George W. & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1993. "Information, Forecasts and Measurement of the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 756, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    27. Fay, Jon A & Medoff, James L, 1985. "Labor and Output over the Business Cycle: Some Direct Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 638-55, September.
    28. Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 1988. "Dynamic Competition with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 123-137, Spring.
    29. Glenn Ellison, 1994. "Theories of Cartel Stability and the Joint Executive Committee," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 37-57, Spring.
    30. King, R.G. & Rebelo, S.T., 1989. "Low Frequency Filtering And Real Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 205, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    31. Kyle Bagwell & Robert Staiger, 1997. "Collusion Over the Business Cycle," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 82-106, Spring.
    32. Bils, Mark & Cho, Jang-Ok, 1994. "Cyclical factor utilization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 319-354, April.
    33. Assar Lindbeck, 1993. "Unemployment and Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121751, December.
    34. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: a comparison," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    35. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
    36. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 921-47, October.
    37. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25.
    38. Evans, George W, 1989. "Output and Unemployment Dynamics in the United States: 1950-1985," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(3), pages 213-37, July-Sept.
    39. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1991. "Markups and the Business Cycle," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1991, Volume 6, pages 63-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    40. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
    41. Hamilton, James D, 1983. "Oil and the Macroeconomy since World War II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 228-48, April.
    42. Michael Bruno & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1985. "Economics of Worldwide Stagflation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brun85-1.
    43. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 183-203.
    44. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 375-394.
    45. Gottfries, Nils, 1986. " Price Dynamics of Exporting and Import-Competing Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(2), pages 417-36.
    46. Chirinko, Robert S, 1980. "The Real Wage Rate over the Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 459-61, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:macchp:1-16. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.