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Menu Costs, Relative Prices, and Inflation: Evidence for Canada

  • Robert A. Amano
  • R. Tiff Macklem

Authors' note: Subsequent to completing this Working Paper, we realized that the way we constructed the weighted relative prices, ri, as described on page 8, is not invariant to the rate of inflation and this introduces a bias in favour of the menu-cost hypothesis. Preliminary results with a correction to this problem reveal that it affects the quantitative results. We are currently revisiting our empirical analysis more completely to consider the quantitative and qualitative implications of removing this bias. The menu-cost models of price adjustment developed by Ball and Mankiw (1994;1995) predict that short-run movements in inflation should be positively related to the skewness and the variance of the distribution of disaggregated relative-price shocks in each period. We test these predictions on Canadian data using the distribution of changes in disaggregated producer prices to measure the skewness and standard deviation of relative-price shocks. We find the Canadian data, both in the context of partial correlations and standard price Phillips curve equations, are highly supportive of the predictions that arise from the menu-cost models. Indeed, we find that the positive relationship between inflation and the skewness of the distribution of relative-price shocks is one of the most robust features of the Canadian Phillips curve and significantly improves our ability to explain inflation dynamics.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 97-14.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:97-14
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  1. Prakash Loungani & Phillip Swagel, 1995. "Supply-side sources of inflation: evidence from OECD countries," International Finance Discussion Papers 515, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
  3. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
  4. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1995. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 161-93, February.
  5. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1999. "Inflation And The Distribution Of Price Changes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 188-196, May.
  6. Robert J. Gordon, 1975. "Alternative Responses of Policy to External Supply Shocks," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(1), pages 183-206.
  7. Friedman, Milton, 1977. "Nobel Lecture: Inflation and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 451-72, June.
  8. Robert J. Hodrick & Edward Prescott, 1981. "Post-War U.S. Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation," Discussion Papers 451, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Duguay, Pierre, 1994. "Empirical evidence on the strength of the monetary transmission mechanism in Canada: An aggregate approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 39-61, February.
  10. Wu, De-Min, 1973. "Alternative Tests of Independence Between Stochastic Regressors and Disturbances," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 733-50, July.
  11. Stanley Fischer, 1981. "Relative Shocks, Relative Price Variability, and Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 381-442.
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