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The Theory and the Facts of How Markets Clear: Is Industrial Organization Valuable for Understanding Macroeconomics?

  • Dennis W. Carlton

This paper examines what industrial organization economists know and don't know about how markets clear. It reviews the empirical evidence which shows that, at least for some industries, price behavior is peculiar with prices failing to adjust over long periods of time. The paper discusses several existing theoretical explanations for the peculiar behavior such as fixed cost to changing price information asymmetries and theories of dynamic oligopoly. The paper goes on to develop some new theories to explain the observed behavior. The new explanations rely heavily on the importance of a seller's knowledge of his customers and on the optimality of non-price rationing. The paper discusses what relation, if anything, macroeconomics has to industrial organization.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2178.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2178.

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Date of creation: Feb 1987
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Schmalensee, Richard and Robery D. Willig (eds.) Handbook of Industrial Organization, Volume 1. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1989.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2178
Note: EFG
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  7. Domowitz, Ian & Hubbard, R Glenn & Petersen, Bruce C, 1986. "The Intertemporal Stability of the Concentration-Margins Relationship," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(1), pages 13-34, September.
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  9. Barro, Robert J, 1972. "A Theory of Monopolistic Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 17-26, January.
  10. Edward J Green & Robert H Porter, 1997. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1147, David K. Levine.
  11. 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.
  12. Frederick C. Mills, 1927. "The Behavior of Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mill27-1, October.
  13. Topel, Robert H, 1982. "Inventories, Layoffs, and the Short-Run Demand for Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 769-87, September.
  14. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
  15. Schmalensee, Richard., 1980. "Product differentiation advantages of pioneering brands," Working papers 1140-80., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  16. Demsetz, Harold, 1973. "Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-9, April.
  17. Michael L. Wachter & Oliver E. Williamson, 1978. "Obligational Markets and the Mechanics of Inflation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 549-571, Autumn.
  18. Robert E. Hall, 1978. "The Macroeconomic Impact of Changes in Income Taxes in the Short and Medium Runs," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 71-85 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Frederick C. Mills, 1927. "Introduction to "The Behavior of Prices"," NBER Chapters, in: The Behavior of Prices, pages 31-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  21. Carlton, Dennis W, 1977. "Uncertainty, Production Lags, and Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 244-49, February.
  22. Eckard, E Woodrow, Jr, 1982. "Firm Market Share, Price Flexibility, and Imperfect Information," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(3), pages 388-92, July.
  23. Telser, Lester G & Higinbotham, Harlow N, 1977. "Organized Futures Markets: Costs and Benefits," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(5), pages 969-1000, October.
  24. 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.
  25. Weiss, Leonard W, 1977. "Stigler, Kindahl, and Means on Administered Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 610-19, September.
  26. Maccini, Louis J., 1973. "On optimal delivery lags," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 107-125, April.
  27. Vining, Daniel R, Jr & Elwertowski, Thomas C, 1976. "The Relationship between Relative Prices and the General Price Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 699-708, September.
  28. Julio J. Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Strategic Inventories and the Excess Volatility of Production," Working papers 371, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  29. Hart, Oliver, 1982. "A Model of Imperfect Competition with Keynesian Features," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 109-38, February.
  30. Mills, David E & Schumann, Laurence, 1985. "Industry Structure with Fluctuating Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 758-67, September.
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