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Pricing when Customers Care about Fairness but Misinfer Markups

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  • Erik Eyster
  • Kristof Madarasz
  • Pascal Michaillat

Abstract

This paper proposes a theory of price rigidity consistent with survey evidence that firms stabilize prices out of fairness to their consumers. The theory relies on two psychological assumptions. First, customers care about the fairness of prices: fixing the price of a good, consumers enjoy it more at a low markup than at a high markup. Second, customers underinfer marginal costs from prices: when prices rise due to an increase in marginal costs, customers underappreciate the increase in marginal costs and partially misattribute higher prices to higher markups. Firms anticipate customers’ reaction and trim their price increases. Hence, the passthrough of marginal costs into prices falls short of one—prices are somewhat rigid. Embedded in a simple macroeconomic model, our pricing theory produces nonneutral monetary policy, a short-run Phillips curve that involves both past and future inflation rates, a hump-shaped impulse response of output to monetary policy, and a nonvertical long-run Phillips curve.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Eyster & Kristof Madarasz & Pascal Michaillat, 2017. "Pricing when Customers Care about Fairness but Misinfer Markups," NBER Working Papers 23778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23778
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Youssef Benzarti & Dorian Carloni & Jarkko Harju & Tuomas Kosonen, 2017. "What Goes Up May Not Come Down: Asymmetric Incidence of Value-Added Taxes," NBER Working Papers 23849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Youssef Benzarti & Dorian Carloni & Jarkko Harju & Tuomas Kosonen, 2017. "What Goes Up May Not Come Down: Asymmetric Incidence of Value-Added Taxes," NBER Working Papers 23849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • E03 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Macroeconomics
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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