Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market
It has been documented that retail gasoline prices respond more quickly to increases in wholesale price than to decreases. However, there is very little theoretical or empirical evidence identifying the market characteristics responsible for this behavior. This paper presents a new theoretical model of asymmetric adjustment that empirically matches observed retail gasoline price behavior better than previously suggested explanations. I develop a â€œreference priceâ€ consumer search model that assumes consumersâ€™ expectations of prices are based on prices observed during previous purchases. The model predicts that consumers search less when prices are falling. This reduced search results in higher profit margins and a slower price response to cost changes than when margins are low and prices are increasing. Following the predictions of the theory, I use a panel of gas station prices to estimate the response pattern of prices to a change in costs. Unlike previous empirical studies I focus on how profit margins (in addition to the direction of the cost change) affect the speed of price response. Estimates are consistent with the predictions of the reference price search model, and appear to contradict previously suggested explanations of asymmetric adjustment.
|Date of creation:||01 Sep 2004|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: F502 Haas, Berkeley CA 94720-1922|
Phone: (510) 642-1922
Fax: (510) 642-5018
Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/iber_cpc/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Stock, James H, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Least Squares Estimators of Cointegrating Vectors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1035-56, September.
- Hastings, Justine, 2000. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: An Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt0bw767hm, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
- Sam Peltzman, 2000.
"Prices Rise Faster than They Fall,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
- Sam Peltzman, 1998. "Prices Rise Faster Than They Fall," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 142, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron & Richard Gilbert, 1997.
"Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-339.
- Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron, 1992. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," NBER Working Papers 4138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ball, L. & Mankiw, N.G., 1992.
"Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1602, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1994. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 247-61, March.
- Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1992. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 4089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Roland Bénabou & Robert Gertner, 1993. "Search with Learning from Prices: Does Increased Inflationary Uncertainty Lead to Higher Markups?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 69-93.
- Enders, Walter & Granger, C. W. J., 1998.
"Unit Root Tests and Asymmetric Adjustment with an Example Using the Term Structure of Interest Rates,"
Staff General Research Papers
1388, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
- Enders, Walter & Granger, Clive W J, 1998. "Unit-Root Tests and Asymmetric Adjustment with an Example Using the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 16(3), pages 304-11, July.
- Tom Doan, . "RATS programs to replicate Enders/Granger JBES(1998)on threshold unit roots," Statistical Software Components RTZ00054, Boston College Department of Economics.
- Ronald Johnson, 2002. "Search Costs, Lags and Prices at the Pump," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 33-50, February.
- Jan F. Kiviet, 1986. "On the Rigour of Some Misspecification Tests for Modelling Dynamic Relationships," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(2), pages 241-261.
- Jeffrey D. Karrenbrock, 1991. "The behavior of retail gasoline prices: symmetric or not?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 19-29.
- Duffy-Deno, Kevin T., 1996. "Retail price asymmetries in local gasoline markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1-2), pages 81-92, April.
- Rafael Rob, 1985. "Equilibrium Price Distributions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 487-504.
- Engle, Robert & Granger, Clive, 2015.
"Co-integration and error correction: Representation, estimation, and testing,"
Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 39(3), pages 106-135.
- Engle, Robert F & Granger, Clive W J, 1987. "Co-integration and Error Correction: Representation, Estimation, and Testing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 251-76, March.
- Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and ripoffs: a model of monopolistically competitive price dispersion," Special Studies Papers 94, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
- Gurumurthy Kalyanaram & Russell S. Winer, 1995. "Empirical Generalizations from Reference Price Research," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(3_supplem), pages G161-G169.
- Barry K. Goodwin & Matthew T. Holt, 1999. "Price Transmission and Asymmetric Adjustment in the U.S. Beef Sector," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(3), pages 630-637.
- Daniel S. Putler, 1992. "Incorporating Reference Price Effects into a Theory of Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 287-309.
- James M. O'Brien, 2000. "Estimating the value and interest rate risk of interest-bearing transactions deposits," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 689-711, July/Aug..
- Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt9pv2d9fn. 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: (Lisa Schiff)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.