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Precautionary price stickiness

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  • Costain, James
  • Nakov, Anton

Abstract

This paper proposes a model in which retail prices are sticky even though firms can always change their prices at zero cost. Instead of imposing a "menu cost", we assume that more precise decisions are more costly. In equilibrium, firms optimally make some errors in price-setting, thus economizing on managerial time. Both the time cost of choice, and the resulting risk of errors, give firms an incentive to leave their prices unchanged until they perceive a sufficiently large deviation from the optimal price. We show that pricing errors help explain several "puzzles" from microdata: (1) small and large price changes coexist; (2) the probability of price adjustment is largely independent of the time since last adjustment; (3) the size of the adjustment is largely independent of the time since last adjustment; (4) extreme prices are younger than prices near the center of the distribution; (5) the coefficient of variation of prices is greater than that of costs; (6) the standard deviation of price adjustments is largely independent of the inflation rate, and the fraction of price increases converges slowly towards 100% as inflation rises. However, on the macroeconomic side, pricing errors do little to explain the real effects of monetary shocks. Since firms making sufficiently large errors always choose to adjust, a nominal shock generates a strong, inflationary "selection effect". Thus, like Golosov and Lucas (2007), we find that money shocks are almost neutral, but our model fits microdata better than their specification does.

Suggested Citation

  • Costain, James & Nakov, Anton, 2014. "Precautionary price stickiness," CEPR Discussion Papers 9912, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9912
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    Cited by:

    1. James Costain & Anton Nakov, 2013. "Logit price dynamics," Working Papers 1301, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    2. Bo E. Honoré & Daniel Kaufmann & Sarah Lein, 2012. "Asymmetries in Price‐Setting Behavior: New Microeconometric Evidence from Switzerland," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44, pages 211-236, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    (S; s); adjustment; logit equilibrium; near-rational behavior; Nominal rigidity; state-dependent pricing;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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