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Edgeworth Cycles Revisited


  • Joseph J. Doyle, Jr.
  • Erich Muehlegger
  • Krislert Samphantharak


Some gasoline markets exhibit remarkable price cycles, where price spikes are followed by a string of small price declines until the next price spike. This pattern is predicted from a model of competition driven by Edgeworth cycles, as described by Maskin and Tirole. We extend the Maskin and Tirole model and empirically test its predictions with a new dataset of daily station-level prices in 115 US cities. One innovation is that we also examine cycling within cities, which allows controls for city fixed effects. Consistent with the theory, and often in contrast with previous empirical work, we find that the least and most concentrated markets are much less likely to exhibit cycling behavior; and the areas with more independent retailers that have convenience stores are more likely to cycle. We also find that the average gasoline prices are relatively unrelated to cycling behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. & Erich Muehlegger & Krislert Samphantharak, 2008. "Edgeworth Cycles Revisited," NBER Working Papers 14162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14162
    Note: EEE IO

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. J. Isaac Brannon, 2003. "The effects of resale price maintenance laws on petrol prices and station attrition: empirical evidence from Wisconsin," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 343-349.
    2. Michael D. Noel, 2007. "EDGEWORTH PRICE CYCLES: EVIDENCE FROM THE TORONTO RETAIL GASOLINE MARKET -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 69-92, March.
    3. Michael D. Noel, 2008. "Edgeworth Price Cycles and Focal Prices: Computational Dynamic Markov Equilibria," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 345-377, June.
    4. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "A Theory of Dynamic Oligopoly, II: Price Competition, Kinked Demand Curves, and Edgeworth Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(3), pages 571-599, May.
    5. Michael D. Noel, 2007. "Edgeworth Price Cycles, Cost-Based Pricing, and Sticky Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 324-334, May.
    6. Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron & Richard Gilbert, 1997. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-339.
    7. Slade, Margaret E, 1998. "Strategic Motives for Vertical Separation: Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 84-113, April.
    8. George Deltas, 2008. "RETAIL GASOLINE PRICE DYNAMICS AND LOCAL MARKET POWER -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 613-628, September.
    9. Eckert, Andrew, 2003. "Retail price cycles and the presence of small firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 151-170, February.
    10. Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Contractual Form, Retail Price, and Asset Characteristics in Gasoline Retailing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 58-77, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fullerton, Thomas M. & Jiménez, Alan A. & Walke, Adam G., 2015. "An econometric analysis of retail gasoline prices in a border metropolitan economy," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 450-461.
    2. Paul Zimmerman & John Yun & Christopher Taylor, 2013. "Edgeworth Price Cycles in Gasoline: Evidence from the United States," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 42(3), pages 297-320, May.
    3. Haucap, Justus & Heimeshoff, Ulrich & Siekmann, Manuel, 2015. "Price dispersion and station heterogeneity on German retail gasoline markets," DICE Discussion Papers 171, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    4. Martin Hahn, 2012. "An Evolutionary Analysis of Varian’s Model of Sales," Dynamic Games and Applications, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 71-96, March.
    5. Miguel A. Fonseca & Hans-Theo Normann, 2013. "Excess Capacity and Pricing in Bertrand-Edgeworth Markets: Experimental Evidence," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 169(2), pages 199-228, June.
    6. Matthew Lewis & Michael Noel, 2011. "The Speed of Gasoline Price Response in Markets with and without Edgeworth Cycles," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 672-682, May.
    7. Dewenter, Ralf & Linder, Melissa & Schwalbe, Ulrich, 2017. "Preiszyklen im Kraftstoffmarkt - Wettbewerb oder Kollusives Verhalten?," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168246, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Nicolas de Roos & Hajime Katayama, 2013. "Gasoline Price Cycles Under Discrete Time Pricing," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(285), pages 175-193, June.
    9. Noel, Michael D., 2012. "Edgeworth Price Cycles and intertemporal price discrimination," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 942-954.
    10. Leufkens, Kasper & Peeters, Ronald, 2011. "Price dynamics and collusion under short-run price commitments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 134-153, January.
    11. Lewis, Matthew S., 2012. "Price leadership and coordination in retail gasoline markets with price cycles," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 342-351.
    12. Noel, Michael D., 2015. "Do Edgeworth price cycles lead to higher or lower prices?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 81-93.
    13. Noel, Michael D. & Chu, Lanlan, 2015. "Forecasting gasoline prices in the presence of Edgeworth Price Cycles," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 204-214.
    14. Juan Luis Jiménez & Jordi Perdiguero, 2013. "“One more lie: the ‘Monday effect’ in Spain’s retail petrol market”," IREA Working Papers 201324, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Dec 2013.
    15. Isakower, Sean & Wang, Zhongmin, 2014. "A comparison of regular price cycles in gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 445-454.
    16. Wills-Johnson, Nick & Bloch, Harry, 2010. "A simple spatial model for Edgeworth Cycles," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 334-336, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L70 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - General

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