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The Simple Economics of Asymmetric Cost Pass-Through

Author

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  • Robert A. Ritz

    () (Energy Policy Research Group (EPRG) Judge Business School & Faculty of Economics University of Cambridge)

Abstract

In response to cost changes, prices often rise more strongly or quickly than they fall. This phenomenon has attracted attention from economists, policy makers, and the general public for decades. Many assert that it cannot be explained by standard economic theory, and is evidence for "anti-competative" behaviour by firms. This paper argues against this conventional wisdom; it shows that simple price theory can, in principle, account for such asymmetric pass-through - even with perfect competition. From a policy perspective, knowledge of cost pass-through patterns in a market does not allow for strong inferences on the intensity of competition.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. Ritz, 2015. "The Simple Economics of Asymmetric Cost Pass-Through," Working Papers EPRG 1511, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:enp:wpaper:eprg1511
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    File URL: https://www.eprg.group.cam.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/EPRG-1511-PDF11.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    2. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & Marek Pycia & Marzena Rostek & Marek Weretka, 2014. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 1366-1400.
    3. Ronald W. Ward, 1982. "Asymmetry in Retail, Wholesale, and Shipping Point Pricing for Fresh Vegetables," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 64(2), pages 205-212.
    4. Sam Peltzman, 2000. "Prices Rise Faster than They Fall," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
    5. E. Glen Weyl & Michal Fabinger, 2013. "Pass-Through as an Economic Tool: Principles of Incidence under Imperfect Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(3), pages 528-583.
    6. Jochen Meyer & Stephan von Cramon‐Taubadel, 2004. "Asymmetric Price Transmission: A Survey," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 581-611, November.
    7. Simon Cowan, 2012. "Third-Degree Price Discrimination and Consumer Surplus," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 333-345, June.
    8. Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jacquelyn Pless & Arthur A. van Benthem, 2017. "Pass-Through as a Test for Market Power: An Application to Solar Subsidies," NBER Working Papers 23260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pless, Jacquelyn & Van Benthem, Arthur, 2017. "The Surprising Pass-Through of Solar Subsidies," CEPR Discussion Papers 11908, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. repec:eee:enepol:v:126:y:2019:i:c:p:223-237 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Heim, Sven, 2019. "Rockets and feathers: Asymmetric pricing and consumer search - Evidence from electricity retailing," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-070, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Asymmetric price transmission; cost pass-through; electricity markets; price theory; rockets and feathers;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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