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Rockets and Feathers in the Laboratory

  • Ralph-C Bayer
  • Changxia Ke

Consumers often complain that retail prices respond faster to increases in wholesale prices than to decreases. Despite many empirical studies confirming this "Rockets-and-Feathers" phenomenon for different industries, the mechan¬ism driving it is not well understood. In this paper, we show that, in contrast to the theoretical prediction, asymmetric price adjustment to cost shocks, as well as price dispersion, arises in experimental Diamond (1971) markets. The analysis of individual behavior suggests that the observed price dispersion can be explained by bounded rationality, as our data are well explained by Quantal Response Equilibrium (McKelvey and Palfrey 1995). Asymmetric price adjustment is caused by the buyers with adaptive expectation updating differently quickly after positive and negative shocks.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in its series Working Papers with number rockets_and_feathers_in_the_laboratory.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mpi:wpaper:rockets_and_feathers_in_the_laboratory
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  1. Matt Lewis, 2004. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Industrial Organization 0407010, EconWPA.
  2. Grether, David M & Schwartz, Alan & Wilde, Louis L, 1988. "Uncertainty and Shopping Behaviour: An Experimental Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 323-42, April.
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  6. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions," Virginia Economics Online Papers 345, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
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  9. Cason, Timothy N. & Friedman, Daniel, 2003. "Buyer search and price dispersion: a laboratory study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 232-260, October.
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  11. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2003. "Behavioral Game Theory. Experiments in Strategic Interaction: Colin F. Camerer, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003, p. 550, Price $65.00/[UK pound]42.95, ISBN 0-691-09039-4," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 717-720, December.
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  13. Ellingsen, Tore & Friberg, Richard & Hassler, John, 2006. "Menu Costs and Asymmetric Price Adjustment," CEPR Discussion Papers 5749, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Daniel Levy & Sourav Ray & Haipeng (Allan) Chen & Mark Bergen, 2007. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment in the Small," Emory Economics 0703, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  15. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 1998. "Price Competition and Market Concentration: An Experimental Study," Working Paper Series 1998:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  16. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  17. David Neumark & Steven A. Sharpe, 1989. "Market structure and the nature of price rigidity: evidence from the market for consumer deposits," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 52, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  27. repec:cdl:compol:23177 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Hannan, Timothy H & Berger, Allen N, 1991. "The Rigidity of Prices: Evidence from the Banking Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 938-45, September.
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  30. Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687.
  31. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
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