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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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  2. Álvarez, L. & Dhyne, E. & Hoeberichts, M. & Kwapil, C. & Le Bihan, H. & Lünnemann, P. & Martins, F. & Sabbatini, R. & Stahl,H. & Vermeulen, P. & Vilmunen, J., 2005. "Sticky Prices in the Euro Area: A Summary of New Micro Evidence," Working papers 138, Banque de France.
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  12. 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.
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  17. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 2005. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains," Macroeconomics 0505012, EconWPA.
  18. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1983. "Optimum Pricing Policy under Stochastic Inflation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 513-29, July.
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  20. Bart Hobijn & Andrea Tanbalotti & Federico Ravenna, 2005. "Menu Costs at Work: Restaurant Prices and the Introduction of the Euro," 2005 Meeting Papers 659, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  22. 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.
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