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Yesterday's bad times are today's good old times: retail price changes in the 1890s were smaller, less frequent, and more permanent

  • Alan Kackmeister

This paper compares nominal price rigidity in retail stores during two 28-month periods: 1889-1891 and 1997-1999. The 1889-1891 microdata price quotes show: 1. a lower frequency of price changes; 2. a smaller average magnitude of price changes; 3. fewer "small" price changes; and, 4. fewer temporary price reductions. These differences are consistent with the 1889-1891 period having a higher cost of changing prices resulting in less adjustment to transitory price shocks. Changes in the retailing environment that may have led to a higher cost of changing prices in 1889-1891 are discussed.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2005-18.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-18
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  1. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1994. "A sticky-price manifesto," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 127-151, December.
  2. Warner, Elizabeth J & Barsky, Robert B, 1995. "The Timing and Magnitude of Retail Store Markdowns: Evidence from Weekends and Holidays," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 321-52, May.
  3. John B. Taylor, 1998. "Staggered Price and Wage Setting in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 6754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mark Zbaracki & Mark Ritson & Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen, 2004. "Managerial and Customer Costs of Price Adjustment: Direct Evidence from Industrial Markets," Macroeconomics 0402020, EconWPA.
  5. Lal, Rajiv & Matutes, Carmen, 1994. "Retail Pricing and Advertising Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67(3), pages 345-70, July.
  6. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Koelln, K. & Rush, M., 1990. "Rigid Prices And Flexible Products," Papers 90-1, Florida - College of Business Administration.
  8. Anil K. Kashyap, 1990. "Sticky prices: new evidence from retail catalogs," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 112, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Thompson, Gary D. & Wilson, Paul N., 1999. "Market Demands For Bagged, Refrigerated Salads," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.
  10. Levy, Daniel, et al, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 791-825, August.
  11. Goodwin, Barry K. & Grennes, Thomas J. & Craig, Lee A., 2002. "Mechanical Refrigeration and the Integration of Perishable Commodity Markets," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 154-182, April.
  12. Pashigian, B Peter, 1988. "Demand Uncertainty and Sales: A Study of Fashion and Markdown Pricin g," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 936-53, December.
  13. Stigler, George J & Kindahl, James K, 1973. "Industrial Prices, as Administered by Dr. Means," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(4), pages 717-21, September.
  14. Harold Barger, 1955. "Distribution's Place in the American Economy Since 1869," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number barg55-1, December.
  15. Buckle, Robert A. & Carlson, John A., 2000. "Menu costs, firm size and price rigidity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 59-63, January.
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