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House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices

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  • Johannes Ströbel
  • Joseph Vavra

Abstract

We use detailed micro data to document a causal response of local retail price to changes in house prices, with elasticities of 15%-20% across housing booms and busts. Notably, these price responses are largest in zip codes with many homeowners, and non-existent in zip codes with mostly renters. We provide evidence that these retail price responses are driven by changes in markups rather than by changes in local costs. We then argue that markups rise with house prices, particularly in high homeownership locations, because greater housing wealth reduces homeowners’ demand elasticity, and firms raise markups in response. Consistent with this explanation, shopping data confirms that house price changes have opposite effects on the price sensitivity of homeowners and renters. Our evidence has implications for monetary, labor, and urban economics, and suggests a new source of markup variation in business cycle models.

Suggested Citation

  • Johannes Ströbel & Joseph Vavra, 2015. "House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices," CESifo Working Paper Series 5607, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5607
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R22 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Other Demand

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