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Nominal Contracting and Price Flexibility in Product Markets

  • R. Glenn Hubbard
  • Robert J. Weiner

The search for microeconomic foundations of non-Walrasian outcomes in labor and product markets has spawned many studies of contracting. This paper emphasizes the role of contracts for market equilibrium -- for many raw materials and basic industrial commodities -- in which long-term contractual arrangements and spot markets coexist. Our principal goals are two -- (i) to explain the existence of contracts and the equilibrium fraction of trades carried out under contract, and (ii) to consider the impact of demand and supply shocks on spot prices when market trades also take place through long-term contracts. We find that the relative importance of contracting depends on, inter alia, the variance of the spot price and the sources of underlying fluctuations. Consistent with the findings of previous macroeconomic studies, we find that contracting and price rigidity are more likely the more important demand shocks are relative to supply shocks. We adapt our static model of contract price and quantity determination to discuss the adjustment of contract prices. Finally, we discuss three important applications of our multiple-price modeling structure -- to (i) analyses of the effects of changes in vertical market structure on market equilibrium in commodity markets (with specific reference to petroleum and copper), (ii) models of the optimal degree of contract indexation,and (iii) aggregate studies of "sticky prices" in macroeconomics.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1738.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1738.

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Date of creation: Oct 1985
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Publication status: published as Hubbard and Weiner, "Contracting and Price Flexibility in Commodity Markets ," from Review of Economics and Statistics, February 1989, vol. 71, no. 1,pp. 80-89.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1738
Note: ME
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  1. 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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  9. Hubbard, R Glenn, 1986. "Supply Shocks and Price Adjustment in the World Oil Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 85-102, February.
  10. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
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  12. Barro, Robert J, 1972. "A Theory of Monopolistic Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 17-26, January.
  13. D. W. Carlton, 1976. "Vertical Integration in Competitive Markets Under Uncertainty," Working papers 174, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Taylor, John B, 1979. "Staggered Wage Setting in a Macro Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 108-13, May.
  15. Carlton, Dennis W, 1978. "Market Behavior with Demand Uncertainty and Price Inflexibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 571-87, September.
  16. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1977. "Inflation and Costs of Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 287-303, June.
  17. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Sticky Prices in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1187-1211, December.
  18. Verleger, Philip K, Jr, 1982. "The Determinants of Official OPEC Crude Prices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(2), pages 177-82, May.
  19. Gould, John P, 1978. "Inventories and Stochastic Demand: Equilibrium Models of the Firm and Industry," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 1-42, January.
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