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Do Menu Costs Make Prices Sticky?

  • Thomas A. Eife


    (University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics)

This paper studies whether menu costs are large enough to explain why firms are so reluctant to change their prices. Without actually estimating menu costs, we can infer their relevance for firms' price setting decisions from observed pricing behavior around a currency changeover. At a currency changeover, firms have to reprint their price tags (menus) independently of whether or not they want to change prices. And if this is costly, firms' price setting behavior is altered in the months around the changeover. Using data from the Euro-changeover, the paper estimates that menu costs can explain a stickiness of around 30 days which is considerably less than the 7 to 24-month stickiness we observe in retailing and in the service sector. The reluctance of firms to adjust prices more frequently appears to be caused by factors other than menu costs.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0477.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision: Oct 2008
Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0477
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  1. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U. S. Supermarket Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 791-824.
  2. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jonker, Nicole & Folkertsma, Carsten & Blijenberg, Harry, 2004. "An empirical analysis of price setting behaviour in the Netherlands in the period 1998-2003 using micro data," Working Paper Series 0413, European Central Bank.
  4. Apel, Mikael & Friberg, Richard & Hallsten, Kerstin, 2005. "Microfoundations of Macroeconomic Price Adjustment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Firms," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(2), pages 313-38, April.
  5. L. J. Álvarez & E. Dhyne & M. Hoeberichts & C. Kwapil & H. Le Bihan & P. Lünnemann & F. Martins & R. Sabbatini & H. Stahl & P. Vermeulen & J. Vilmunen, 2005. "Sticky Prices in the Euro Area: a Summary of New Micro Evidence," DNB Working Papers 062, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  6. Emmanuel Dhyne & Catherine Fuss & M. Hashem Pesaran & Patrick Sevestre, 2007. "Lumpy Price Adjustments: A Microeconometric Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2010, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Fengler, Matthias R. & Winter, Joachim, 2007. "Price variability and price dispersion in a stable monetary environment: Evidence from German retail markets," Munich Reprints in Economics 20338, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Oleksiy Kryvtsov & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does It Matter For Recent U.S. Inflation?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 277, Society for Computational Economics.
  9. Bart Hobijn & Federico Ravenna & Andrea Tambalotti, 2004. "Menu costs at work: restaurant prices and the introduction of the euro," Staff Reports 195, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Rebecca Hellerstein, 2007. "A framework for identifying the sources of local currency price stability with an empirical application," Staff Reports 287, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  11. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
  12. Danziger, Leif, 1983. "Price Adjustments with Stochastic Inflation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(3), pages 699-707, October.
  13. Alan S. Blinder, 1991. "Why are Prices Sticky? Preliminary Results from an Interview Study," NBER Working Papers 3646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hall, Simon & Walsh, Mark & Yates, Anthony, 2000. "Are UK Companies' Prices Sticky?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 425-46, July.
  15. Hoffmann, Johannes & Kurz-Kim, Jeong-Ryeol, 2006. "Consumer price adjustment under the microscope: Germany in a period of low inflation," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,16, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  16. Dutta, Shantanu, et al, 1999. "Menu Costs, Posted Prices, and Multiproduct Retailers," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(4), pages 683-703, November.
  17. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Rebecca Hellerstein, 2007. "A Structural Approach to Identifying the Sources of Local-Currency Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 13183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Baudry, Laurent & Le Bihan, Hervé & Sevestre, Patrick & Tarrieu, Sylvie, 2004. "Price rigidity. Evidence from the French CPI micro-data," Working Paper Series 0384, European Central Bank.
  19. Eytan Sheshinski & Yoram Weiss, 1983. "Optimum Pricing Policy under Stochastic Inflation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 513-529.
  20. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464.
  21. Merton H. Miller & Daniel Orr, 1966. "A Model of the Demand for Money by Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 413-435.
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