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Sticky Prices, Inventories, and Market Power in Wholesale Gasoline Markets

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  • Severin Borenstein
  • Andrea Shepard

Abstract

We present and test an explanation for lags in the adjustment of wholesale gasoline prices to changes in crude oil prices. Our simple model with costly adjustment of production and inventories implies that output prices will respond with a lag to cost shocks even in the absence of menu costs, imperfect information, and long-term buyer/seller relationships. The model predicts that futures prices for gasoline will adjust incompletely to crude oil price shocks occurring close to the expiration date of the futures contract. We test and confirm this implication. The model also predicts that firms with market power will choose a different price adjustment path than would perfectly competitive firms. We examine the responses of prices in 188 local wholesale gasoline markets and find evidence that greater market power leads to slower output price adjustment.

Suggested Citation

  • Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 1996. "Sticky Prices, Inventories, and Market Power in Wholesale Gasoline Markets," NBER Working Papers 5468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5468
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    1. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-538.
    2. Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Inventories and the Short-Run Dynamics of Commodity Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 141-159, Spring.
    3. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1994. "A sticky-price manifesto," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 127-151, December.
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    5. 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.
    6. Pindyck, Robert S, 1993. "The Present Value Model of Rational Commodity Pricing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 511-530, May.
    7. Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron & Richard Gilbert, 1997. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-339.
    8. Roland BĂ©nabou & Robert Gertner, 1993. "Search with Learning from Prices: Does Increased Inflationary Uncertainty Lead to Higher Markups?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 69-93.
    9. Carlton, Dennis W, 1986. "The Rigidity of Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 637-658, September.
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    12. Jeffrey D. Karrenbrock, 1991. "The behavior of retail gasoline prices: symmetric or not?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 19-29.
    13. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1987. "Commodity Futures Prices: Some Evidence on Forecast Power, Premiums,and the Theory of Storage," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 55-73, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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