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An Empirical Investigation of the Determinants of Asymmetric Pricing

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  • Marc Remer

    (Economic Analysis Group, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice)

Abstract

This article empirically investigates the cause of asymmetric pricing: retail prices responding faster to cost increases than decreases. Using daily price data for over 11,000 retail gasoline stations, I nd that prices fall more slowly than they rise as a consequence of rms extracting informational rents from consumers with positive search costs. Premium gasoline prices are shown to fall more slowly than regular fuel prices but rise at the same pace, and this pricing pattern supports theories based upon competition with consumer search. Further testing also rejects focal price collusion as an important determinant of asymmetric pricing.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Remer, 2012. "An Empirical Investigation of the Determinants of Asymmetric Pricing," EAG Discussions Papers 201210, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
  • Handle: RePEc:doj:eagpap:201210
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    File URL: https://www.justice.gov/atr/public/eag/288447a.html
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sam Peltzman, 2000. "Prices Rise Faster than They Fall," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
    2. Galeotti, Marzio & Lanza, Alessandro & Manera, Matteo, 2003. "Rockets and feathers revisited: an international comparison on European gasoline markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 175-190, March.
    3. Engle, Robert & Granger, Clive, 2015. "Co-integration and error correction: Representation, estimation, and testing," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 39(3), pages 106-135.
    4. Matthew S. Lewis, 2011. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 409-449, June.
    5. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    6. Chen, Li-Hsueh & Finney, Miles & Lai, Kon S., 2005. "A threshold cointegration analysis of asymmetric price transmission from crude oil to gasoline prices," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 233-239, November.
    7. Doyle Jr., Joseph J. & Samphantharak, Krislert, 2008. "$2.00 Gas! Studying the effects of a gas tax moratorium," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 869-884, April.
    8. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2013. "Fungibility and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Commodity Price Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1449-1498.
    9. Godby, Rob & Lintner, Anastasia M. & Stengos, Thanasis & Wandschneider, Bo, 2000. "Testing for asymmetric pricing in the Canadian retail gasoline market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 349-368, June.
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    13. Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687.
    14. Barron, John M & Taylor, Beck A & Umbeck, John R, 2000. "A Theory of Quality-Related Differences in Retail Margins: Why There Is a "Premium" on Premium Gasoline," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(4), pages 550-569, October.
    15. Jean-Francois Houde, 2012. "Spatial Differentiation and Vertical Mergers in Retail Markets for Gasoline," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2147-2182, August.
    16. Lance J. Bachmeier & James M. Griffin, 2003. "New Evidence on Asymmetric Gasoline Price Responses," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 772-776, August.
    17. Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
    18. Ivaldi, Marc & Jullien, Bruno & Rey, Patrick & Seabright, Paul & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "The Economics of Tacit Collusion," IDEI Working Papers 186, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    19. Eckert, Andrew & West, Douglas S, 2004. "Retail Gasoline Price Cycles across Spatially Dispersed Gasoline Stations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 245-273, April.
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    21. Zhongmin Wang, 2009. "(Mixed) Strategy in Oligopoly Pricing: Evidence from Gasoline Price Cycles Before and Under a Timing Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(6), pages 987-1030, December.
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    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:114:y:2018:i:c:p:519-528 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:eneeco:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:314-321 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jacint Balaguer & Jordi Ripollés, 2016. "Exploring the life of price responses in fuel markets. Mean group data or mean group estimator?," Working Papers 2016/16, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    4. repec:eee:ecolet:v:162:y:2018:i:c:p:1-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Eleftheriou, Konstantinos & Polemis, Michael, 2016. "Gasoline Price Wars: Spatial Dependence Awakens," MPRA Paper 70037, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General

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