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Dynamics of the U.S. Price Distribution

Author

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  • David Berger
  • Joseph Vavra

Abstract

We use microdata underlying U.S. consumer, producer and import price indices to document how the distribution of price changes evolves over time. Two striking features characterize pricing at each stage of production: 1) Frequency is countercyclical. 2) Frequency is correlated with variance. Conversely, other statistics which have received recent attention, like kurtosis, do not exhibit uniform patterns across our datasets. What implications do our empirical results have for monetary policy? Using a flexible accounting framework which collapses the high-dimensional distribution of price changes into a single measure of aggregate price flexibility, we show that flexibility is highly variable and countercyclical.

Suggested Citation

  • David Berger & Joseph Vavra, 2015. "Dynamics of the U.S. Price Distribution," NBER Working Papers 21732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21732
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Etienne Gagnon & David López-Salido & Nicolas Vincent, 2013. "Individual Price Adjustment along the Extensive Margin," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 235-281.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Max Floetotto & Nir Jaimovich & Itay Saporta†Eksten & Stephen J. Terry, 2018. "Really Uncertain Business Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(3), pages 1031-1065, May.
    3. Bart Hobijn & Adam Shapiro & Fernanda Nechio, 2019. "Using Brexit to Identify the Nature of Price Rigidities," 2019 Meeting Papers 693, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. repec:eee:moneco:v:101:y:2019:i:c:p:82-99 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Joseph Vavra, 2014. "Inflation Dynamics and Time-Varying Volatility: New Evidence and an Ss Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 215-258.
    6. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Price Rigidity: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 133-163, May.
    7. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom, 2013. "Does Uncertainty Reduce Growth? Using Disasters as Natural Experiments," CEP Discussion Papers dp1243, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Ruediger Bachmann & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2011. "Business Cycles and Endogenous Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 36, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Nicoletta Berardi & Erwan Gautier & Hervé Le Bihan, 2015. "More Facts about Prices: France Before and During the Great Recession," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(8), pages 1465-1502, December.
    10. Bachmann, Rüdiger & Born, Benjamin & Elstner, Steffen & Grimme, Christian, 2019. "Time-varying business volatility and the price setting of firms," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 82-99.
    11. Can Tian, 2012. "Riskiness Choice and Endogenous Productivity Dispersion over the Business Cycle," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    12. Gopinath, Gita & Itskhoki, Oleg & Neiman, Brent, 2012. "Trade Prices and the Global Trade Collapse of 2008–09," Scholarly Articles 11988099, Harvard University Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure

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