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Behavioral Aspects of Price Setting, and Their Policy Implications

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  • Julio J. Rotemberg

Abstract

This paper starts by discussing consumers' cognitive and emotional reaction to posted prices. Cognitively, some consumers do not appear to make effective use of price information to maximize their consumption-based utility. Emotionally, prices can induce regret and anger among consumers. The optimal responses of firm's prices to these reactions can explain why firms charge prices below marginal cost for many goods and why they keep their prices rigid. This explanation of price rigidity has the advantage of being consistent with the observation that the typical size of price increases is nearly invariant to inflation. Lastly, the paper turns to some government policies regarding prices that appear to have some consumer support. It argues that both laws against price gouging and laws regulating the terms of mortgages may have support because consumers recognize that many people do not optimize their consumption effectively and because they are angry at firms that take advantage of this. These attitudes can also explain consumer support for monetary policies that maintain a low level of average inflation.

Suggested Citation

  • Julio J. Rotemberg, 2008. "Behavioral Aspects of Price Setting, and Their Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 13754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13754 Note: IO
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Levy & Dongwon Lee & Haipeng (Allan) Chen & Robert J. Kauffman & Mark Bergen, 2011. "Price Points and Price Rigidity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1417-1431, November.
    2. Francesco Lamperti & Giovanni Dosi & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini & Sandro Sapio, 2017. "Faraway, so close : coupled climate and economic dynamics in an agent-based integrated assessment model," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4hs7liq1f49, Sciences Po.
    3. Dosi, Giovanni & Fagiolo, Giorgio & Napoletano, Mauro & Roventini, Andrea, 2013. "Income distribution, credit and fiscal policies in an agent-based Keynesian model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1598-1625.
    4. Levin, Andrew T. & David López-Salido, J. & Nelson, Edward & Yun, Tack, 2008. "Macroeconometric equivalence, microeconomic dissonance, and the design of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(Supplemen), pages 48-62, October.
    5. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2010. "Altruistic Dynamic Pricing with Customer Regret," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 646-672, December.
    6. Dosi, Giovanni & Fagiolo, Giorgio & Napoletano, Mauro & Roventini, Andrea & Treibich, Tania, 2015. "Fiscal and monetary policies in complex evolving economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 166-189.
    7. Dosi, Giovanni & Fagiolo, Giorgio & Roventini, Andrea, 2010. "Schumpeter meeting Keynes: A policy-friendly model of endogenous growth and business cycles," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 1748-1767, September.
    8. Lena Vogel & Jan-Oliver Menz & Ulrich Fritsche, 2009. "Prospect Theory and Inflation Perceptions - An Empirical Assessment," Macroeconomics and Finance Series 200903, Hamburg University, Department Wirtschaft und Politik.
    9. Chen, Haipeng (Allan) & Levy, Daniel & Ray, Sourav & Bergen, Mark, 2008. "Asymmetric price adjustment in the small," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 728-737, May.
    10. Giovanni Dosi & Giorgio Fagiolo & Mauro Napoletano & Tania Treibich, 2014. "The Short-and Long-Run Damages of Fiscal Austerity: Keynes beyond Schumpeter," Sciences Po publications 22, Sciences Po.
    11. Heyes, Anthony & Kapur, Sandeep, 2012. "Angry customers, e-word-of-mouth and incentives for quality provision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 813-828.
    12. Giovanni Dosi & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini & Joseph E. Stiglitz & Tania Treibich, 2017. "Rational Heuristics? Expectations and Behaviors in Evolving Economies with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents," LEM Papers Series 2017/31, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    13. Mauro Napoletano & Giovanni Dosi & Giorgio Fagiolo & Andrea Roventini, 2012. "Wage Formation, Investment Behavior and Growth Regimes: An Agent-Based Analysis," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(5), pages 235-261.
    14. Edward S. Knotek, 2011. "Convenient Prices and Price Rigidity: Cross-Sectional Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 1076-1086, August.
    15. Dutta, Sujay & Yaprak, Attila & Grewal, Dhruv, 2017. "Fairness perceptions of retail price increases by foreign and domestic brands: The roles of ethnocentric beliefs, profit stickiness, and contextual information," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 37-45.
    16. Michel Alexandre da Silva & Gilberto Tadeu Lima, 2015. "Combining Monetary Policy and Prudential Regulation: an agent-based modeling approach," Working Papers Series 394, Central Bank of Brazil, Research Department.
    17. Anthony Heyes & Sandeep Kapur, 2012. "Customer Anger and Incentives for Quality Provision," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 1215, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
    18. Lena Dräger & Jan-Oliver Menz & Ulrich Fritsche, 2014. "Perceived inflation under loss aversion," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 282-293, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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