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Lost in Transit: Product Replacement Bias and Pricing to Market

  • Emi Nakamura
  • Jón Steinsson

The microdata underlying U.S. import and export price indexes exhibit frequent product turnover and highly rigid prices. As a consequence, 40% of products are replaced before a single price change is observed and 70% are replaced after two price changes or less. An aggregate price index that focuses on price changes for identical items over time may, therefore, miss an important component of price adjustment occurring at the time of product replacements. We provide a model of this "product replacement bias" and quantify its importance using U.S. microdata on import and export prices. We show that, accounting for product replacement bias, long-run exchange rate "pass-through" into U.S. import and export price indexes is almost twice as high as conventional estimates suggest, and changes in the terms of trade are roughly 75% more volatile. Our adjustment makes pass-through statistics easier to account for with existing general equilibrium models.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15359.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Publication status: published as Emi Nakamura & J�n Steinsson, 2012. "Lost in Transit: Product Replacement Bias and Pricing to Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3277-3316, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15359
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