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New Goods and Index Numbers: U.S. Import Prices

  • Robert C. Feenstra

Researchers constructing index number frequently face the problem of new (or disappearing) goods, for which the price and quantity are not available in some periods. In theory, the correct way to handle a new good is to treat its price before it appears as equal to the reservation price (i.e., where demand is zero); in practice, this method can be difficult to implement. However, if the underlying aggregator function is CES then the reservation price is infinity, and we show that the corresponding price index takes on a very sensible form. We apply this formula to measure the price index for six disaggregate U.S. imports, which have been supplied from many new countries over the past several decades. We find that by incorporating the new supplying countries, the price index for developing countries is significantly lower than would otherwise be measured.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3610.

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Date of creation: Feb 1991
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Publication status: published as revised as "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices", American Economic Review, Vol. 84, no. 1, pp. 157-177, (March 1994).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3610
Note: ITI PR IFM
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  1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
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  8. Sato, Kazuo, 1976. "The Ideal Log-Change Index Number," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(2), pages 223-28, May.
  9. Makoto Ohta & Zvi Griliches, 1976. "Automobile Prices Revisited: Extensions of the Hedonic Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 325-398 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Goldstein, Morris & Khan, Mohsin S., 1985. "Income and price effects in foreign trade," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 1041-1105 Elsevier.
  11. Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen, 1992. "Accounting for Growth With New Inputs," NBER Working Papers 4114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Houthakker, Hendrik S & Magee, Stephen P, 1969. "Income and Price Elasticities in World Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(2), pages 111-25, May.
  13. Peter Hooper, 1989. "Exchange rates and U.S. external adjustment in the short run and the long run," International Finance Discussion Papers 346, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "The Economic Theory of Index Numbers and the Measurement of Input, Output, and Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1393-1414, November.
  15. 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..
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