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Prices and Supply Disruptions during Natural Disasters

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  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Eduardo Cavallo
  • Roberto Rigobon

Abstract

We study the daily behavior of supermarket prices and product availability following two recent natural disasters: the 2010 earthquake in Chile and the 2011 earthquake in Japan. In both cases there was an immediate and persistent effect on product availability. The number of goods available for sale fell 32% in Chile and 17% in Japan from the day of the disaster to its lowest point, which occurred 61 and 18 days after the earthquakes, respectively. Product availability recovered slowly, and a significant share of goods remained out of stock after six months. By contrast, prices were relatively stable and did not increase for months after the earthquakes, even for goods that were experiencing severe stockouts. These trends are present at all levels of aggregation, but appear strongly in non-perishable goods and emergency products. Our findings shed light into the determinants of sticky prices in conditions where traditional adjustment costs are less important. In particular, we look at the frequency and magnitudes of price changes in both countries and find that the results in Chile are consistent with pricing models where retailers have fear of "customer anger". In Japan, by contrast, the evidence suggests a bigger role for supply disruptions that restricted the ability of retailers to re-stock goods after the earthquake.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Cavallo & Eduardo Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2013. "Prices and Supply Disruptions during Natural Disasters," NBER Working Papers 19474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19474
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    Cited by:

    1. Gagnon, Etienne & Lopez-Salido, J. David, 2014. "Small Price Responses to Large Demand Shocks," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-18, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Alberto Cavallo, 2017. "Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-channel Retailers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 283-303, January.
    3. Borensztein, Eduardo & Cavallo, Eduardo & Jeanne, Olivier, 2017. "The welfare gains from macro-insurance against natural disasters," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 142-156.
    4. Miles Parker, 2016. "The impact of disasters on inflation," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2016/06, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    5. Vasco M. CARVALHO & NIREI Makoto & SAITO Yukiko, 2014. "Supply Chain Disruptions: Evidence from the Great East Japan Earthquake," Discussion papers 14035, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    6. repec:ecr:col070:42007 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 151-178, Spring.
    8. Sarker, Ruhul & Essam, Daryl, 2017. "A quantitative model for disruption mitigation in a supply chainAuthor-Name: Paul, Sanjoy Kumar," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 257(3), pages 881-895.
    9. Abe, Naohito & Moriguchi, Chiaki & Inakura, Noriko, 2014. "The Impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Commodity Prices: New Evidence from High-Frequency Scanner Data," Research Center for Price Dynamics Working Paper Series 12, Research Center for Price Dynamics, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    10. Marshall Reinsdorf & Robert Hill, 2014. "The 32nd IARIW General Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, 2012: Editors’ Introduction," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S2), pages 277-280, November.
    11. Hunter, Janet & Ogasawara, Kota, 2016. "Price shocks in disaster: the Great Kantō Earthquake in Japan,1923," Economic History Working Papers 68618, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    12. Abe, Naohito & Moriguchi, Chiaki & Inakura, Noriko, 2014. "The Effects of Natural Disasters on Prices and Purchasing Behaviors: The Case of the Great East Japan Earthquake," RCESR Discussion Paper Series DP14-1, Research Center for Economic and Social Risks, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    13. Masashige Hamano & Wessel N. Vermeulen, "undated". "Adapting to within-country export barriers: Evidence from the Japan 2011 Tsunami," Working Papers 1706, Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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