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Why Does the 'Law of One Price' Fail? A Case Study


  • Haskel, Jonathan
  • Wolf, Holger C


We use retail transaction prices for a multinational retailer to examine the extent and permanence of violations of the law of one price (LOOP) for identical products sold in a variety of countries. We find median deviations of twenty to fifty percent. The differences are not systematic across very similar goods within a product group (e.g. two types of mirrors), nor across product groups, ruling out differences in local distribution costs as an explanation of violations of the LOOP, and pointing instead to differences in mark-ups. While divergences are large at a point in time, both their extent and their duration is limited, suggesting the presence of significant indirect competitive pressures.

Suggested Citation

  • Haskel, Jonathan & Wolf, Holger C, 1999. "Why Does the 'Law of One Price' Fail? A Case Study," CEPR Discussion Papers 2187, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2187

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    Cited by:

    1. Jean M. Imbs & Haroon Mumtaz & Morten O. Ravn & Hélène Rey, 2010. "One TV, One Price?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 753-781, December.
    2. Michael B. Devereux & Charles Engel & CÈdric Tille, 2003. "Exchange Rate Pass-Through and the Welfare Effects of the Euro," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(1), pages 223-242, February.
    3. Matthias Lutz, 2002. "Beyond Burgernomics and MacParity: Exchange Rate Forecasts Based on the Law of One Price," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 D4-1, International Conferences on Panel Data.
    4. Buiter, Willem H., 2000. "Optimal Currency Areas: Why Does The Exchange Rate Regime Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2366, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. W.H. Buiter, 2000. "Optimal Currency Areas: Why Does the Exchange Rate Regime Matter? (With an Application to UK Membership in EMU)," CEP Discussion Papers dp0462, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Nikolay Nenovsky & Kalina Dimitrova, 2002. "Dual Inflation Under the Currency Board: The Challenges of Bulgarian EU Accession," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 487, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    7. Francesco Paolo Mongelli, 2005. "What is European Economic and Monetary Union Telling us About the Properties of Optimum Currency Areas?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 607-635, September.
    8. Jean Imbs & Haroon Mumtaz & Morten O. Ravn & Hélène Rey, 2005. "PPP Strikes Back: Aggregation And the Real Exchange Rate," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 1-43.
    9. Joanna Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2008. "Price convergence in the EU—an aggregate and disaggregate approach," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 25-47, July.
    10. Steven Silver, 2010. "Convergence in Revealed Preferences for Automobiles as Differentiated Goods: U.S. and OECD Countries: 1970–1999," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 38(1), pages 3-14, March.

    More about this item


    Arbitrage; Exchange Rate Passthrough; Imperfect Competition; Law of one price; Mean Reversion; Price Setting;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce


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