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Relative-Price Change as Aggregate Supply Shocks

  • Ball, L.
  • Mankiw, G.H.

This paper proposes a theory of supply shocks, or shifts in the short-run Phillips curve, based on relative-price changes and frictions in nominal price adjustment. When price adjustment is costly, firms adjust to large shocks but not to small shocks, and so large shocks have disproportionate effects on the price level. Therefore, aggregate inflation depends on the distribution of relative-price changes: inflation rises when the distribution is skewed to the right, and falls when the distribution is skewed to the left. We show that this theoretical result explains a large fraction of movements in postwar U.S. inflation. Moreover, our model suggests measures of supply shocks that perform better than traditional measures, such as the relative prices of food and energy.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1609.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 1992
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1609
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  1. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert J. Gordon, 1975. "Alternative Responses of Policy to External Supply Shocks," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(1), pages 183-206.
  3. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1994. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 247-61, March.
  4. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-38, May.
  5. Batchelor, R. A., 1981. "Aggregate expectations under the stable laws," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 199-210, June.
  6. Mizon, Grayham E & Safford, J Claire & Thomas, Stephen H, 1990. "The Distribution of Consumer Price Changes in the United Kingdom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(226), pages 249-62, May.
  7. Arthur M. Okun, 1975. "Inflation: Its Mechanics and Welfare Costs," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(2), pages 351-402.
  8. Parkin, Michael, 1986. "The Output-Inflation Trade-off When Prices Are Costly to Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 200-224, February.
  9. Gordon, Robert J, 1990. "What Is New-Keynesian Economics?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 1115-71, September.
  10. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1991. "State-Dependent Pricing and the Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 683-708, August.
  11. Blinder, Alan S, 1991. "Why Are Prices Sticky? Preliminary Results from an Interview Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 89-96, May.
  12. Stanley Fischer, 1981. "Relative Shocks, Relative Price Variability, and Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 381-442.
  13. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer, 1988. "The New Keynsesian Economics and the Output-Inflation Trade-off," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 1-82.
  14. Blejer, Mario I, 1983. "On the Anatomy of Inflation: The Variability of Relative Commodity Prices in Argentina," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 15(4), pages 469-82, November.
  15. Vining, Daniel R, Jr & Elwertowski, Thomas C, 1976. "The Relationship between Relative Prices and the General Price Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 699-708, September.
  16. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 1987. "Monopolistic Competition and the Effects of Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 647-66, September.
  17. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "A Near-rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Intertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 823-38, Supp..
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