IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this book chapter or follow this series

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. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1984. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 735, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    2. Gali Jordi, 1994. "Monopolistic Competition, Business Cycles, and the Composition of Aggregate Demand," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 73-96, June.
    3. Michael Bruno & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1985. "Economics of Worldwide Stagflation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brun85-1, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Hansen, Gary D. & Sargent, Thomas J., 1988. "Straight time and overtime in equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 281-308.
    6. Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 1988. "Dynamic Competition with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 123-137, Spring.
    7. Miles S. Kimball, 1995. "The Quantitative Analytics of the Basic Neomonetarist Model," NBER Working Papers 5046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1997. "Sticky price and limited participation models of money: A comparison," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1201-1249, June.
    10. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
    11. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1995. "Collusion Over the Business Cycle," Discussion Papers 1118, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    12. Gottfries, Nils, 1986. " Price Dynamics of Exporting and Import-Competing Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(2), pages 417-36.
    13. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1987. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Cardia, E. & Ambler, S., 1993. "The Cyclical Behaviour of Wages and Profits Under Imperfect Competition," Cahiers de recherche 9330, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    15. Plosser, C.I., 1989. "Understanding Real Business Cycles," Papers 89-03, Rochester, Business - General.
    16. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1990. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 3556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Gomme, Paul & Greenwood, Jeremy, 1995. "On the cyclical allocation of risk," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 91-124.
    18. Argia M. Sbordone, 1993. "Cyclical productivity in a model of labor hoarding," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    19. Marvin Goodfriend, 1997. "A framework for the analysis of moderate inflations," Working Paper 97-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    20. 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.
    21. 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.
    22. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1982. "Time-Separable Preference and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 0888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. 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.
    24. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," NBER Working Papers 4489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Mark Bils & Jang-Ok Cho, 1993. "Cyclical factor utilization," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 79, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    26. 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.
    27. 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.
    28. 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.
    29. Klemperer, Paul D, 1987. "Entry Deterrence in Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 99-117, Supplemen.
    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. 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.
    32. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1992. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias," NBER Working Papers 4202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Todd E. Clark, 1996. "The responses of prices at different stages of production to monetary policy shocks," Research Working Paper 96-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    34. 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.
    35. 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.
    36. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
    37. 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.
    38. 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.
    39. Assar Lindbeck, 1993. "Unemployment and Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121751, March.
    40. 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.
    41. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "Markets with Consumer Switching Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 375-394.
    42. 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.
    43. Martin S. Eichenbaum, 1988. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," NBER Working Papers 2523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    44. 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.
    45. Evans, George & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1994. "Information, forecasts, and measurement of the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 233-254, April.
    46. 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.
    47. 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.
    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: (Zhang, Lei)

    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.