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Violating the Law of One Price: Should We Make a Federal Case Out of It?

  • Charles Engel
  • John H. Rogers

We use new disaggregated data on consumer prices to determine why there is variability in prices of similar goods across U.S. cities. We address questions similar to those that have arisen in the international context: is this variability purely a result of market segmentation or do sticky nominal prices play a role? We also examine how the degree of tradability of a good influences price variability. Surprisingly, we find that variability is larger for traded-goods. We attribute this finding to greater price stickiness for non-traded goods. Distance between cities accounts for a significant amount of the variation in prices between pairs of cities. But we also find that nominal price stickiness plays an even more significant role.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7242.

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Date of creation: Jul 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H, 2001. "Violating the Law of One Price: Should We Make a Federal Case Out of It?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(1), pages 1-15, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7242
Note: IFM
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  1. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  2. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1988. "National Price Levels and the Prices of Tradables and Nontradables," NBER Working Papers 2536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Parsley, David C & Wei, Shang-Jin, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-36, November.
  4. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Do National Borders Matter for Quebec's Trade?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 507-22, August.
  5. Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H, 1996. "How Wide Is the Border?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1112-25, December.
  6. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1993. "On Exchange Rates," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061546, June.
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