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Do Flexible Durable Goods Prices Undermine Sticky Price Models?

  • Robert Barsky
  • Christopher L. House
  • Miles Kimball

Multi-sector sticky price models have surprising implications when durable goods have flexible prices. While in actual data the production of virtually all durables exhibits strong negative responses to monetary contractions, in dynamic general equilibrium models a monetary contraction causes the output of flexibly priced durables to expand. Indeed, in the polar case in which only nondurables have sticky prices, the negative comovement of durable and nondurable production exactly offsets and the behavior of aggregate output mimics that of a model with fully flexible prices. While this neutrality' result is special, the comovement problem' -- the perverse response of flexibly priced durables to monetary policy shocks -- is highly robust. When some durables prices are flexible and others sticky, the comovement problem still applies strongly to the subset of durables with flexible prices. We argue that new housing construction might be best characterized as a flexible price industry for which the comovement problem is relevant. The underlying reason for the comovement problem is the combination of a naturally high intertemporal elasticity of substitution for the purchases of durables and temporarily low marginal costs associated with economic contractions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9832.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9832
Note: EFG ME
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  1. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2003. "Sticky prices and monetary policy shocks," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-9.
  2. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1993. "Federal Reserve Policy: Cause and Effect," NBER Working Papers 4342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," NBER Working Papers 2966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kimball, Miles S, 1995. "The Quantitative Analytics of the Basic Neomonetarist Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1241-77, November.
  5. Ohanian, Lee E & Stockman, Alan C & Kilian, Lutz, 1995. "The Effects of Real and Monetary Shocks in a Business Cycle Model with Some Sticky Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1209-34, November.
  6. Erceg, Christopher J. & Levin, Andrew T., 2002. "Optimal monetary policy with durable and non-durable goods," Working Paper Series 0179, European Central Bank.
  7. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James Tobin, 1955. "A Dynamic Aggregative Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 103.
  9. Bils, Mark, 1989. "Pricing in a Customer Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 699-718, November.
  10. Leahy, John V, 1995. "The Effects of Real and Monetary Shocks in a Business Cycle Model with Some Sticky Prices: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1237-40, November.
  11. Andrew Levin & Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson, 1999. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1151, Society for Computational Economics.
  12. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1982. "Hall's consumption hypothesis and durable goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 417-425.
  13. Ball, Laurence & Romer, David, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-neutrality of Money," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 183-203, April.
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