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Prices and Unit Labor Costs: A New Test of Price Stickiness

  • Argia M. Sbordone

    ()

    (Rutgers University)

This paper investigates the predictions of a simple optimizing model of nominal price rigidity for the aggregate price level and the dynamics of inflation. I compare the model's predictions with those of a perfectly competitive, flexible price `benchmark' model (corresponding to the model of pricing assumed in standard real business cycle models), and evaluate how much the introduction of nominal rigidities improves the model's fit with the data. The model's predictions are derived using only the firms optimal pricing problem; taking as given the paths of nominal labor compensation, labor productivity, and output, I determine the implied path of prices predicted by the model. Because prices are not a stationary series, I present my results in terms of the predicted path of the price/unit labor cost ratio, where the parameters characterizing such paths are chosen to maximize the fit with the data. I find that while the evolution of prices relative to unit labor costs is quite different from what would be predicted by the flexible-price `benchmark' model, a simple model of nominal price rigidity delivers an extremely close approximation both of the price/unit labor cost ratio and of the inflation series, even under a very simple approach to the measurement of marginal costs.

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File URL: ftp://snde.rutgers.edu/Rutgers/wp/1998-22.pdf
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Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 199822.

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Date of creation: 19 Oct 2001
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Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:199822
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  1. Argia M. Sbordone, 1993. "Cyclical productivity in a model of labor hoarding," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1986. "The Dividend-Price Ratio and Expectations of Future Dividends and Discount Factors," NBER Working Papers 2100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Campbell, John & Shiller, Robert, 1987. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Scholarly Articles 3122490, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Roberts, John M., 1997. "Is inflation sticky?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 173-196, July.
  5. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1999. "The Cyclical Behavior of Prices and Costs," NBER Working Papers 6909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Sticky Price and Limited Participation Models of Money: A Comparison," NBER Working Papers 5804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Fuhrer, Jeff & Moore, George, 1995. "Inflation Persistence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 127-59, February.
  8. Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "Sticky prices, marginal cost, and the behavior of inflation," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 29-48.
  9. Francis X. Diebold & Lee E. Ohanian & Jeremy Berkowitz, 1998. "Dynamic equilibrium economies: a framework for comparing models and data," Staff Report 243, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Arturo Estrella & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 2002. "Dynamic Inconsistencies: Counterfactual Implications of a Class of Rational-Expectations Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1013-1028, September.
  11. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  12. Jordi GalĂ­ & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Inflation dynamics: A structural econometric analysis," Economics Working Papers 341, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  13. John M. Roberts, 1998. "Inflation expectations and the transmission of monetary policy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-43, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. repec:nbr:nberre:0126 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. F. Brayton & P. Tinsley, 1996. "A guide to FRB/US: a macroeconomic model of the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  17. Esteban Jadresic, 1999. "Sticky Prices: An Empirical Assessment of Alternative Models," IMF Working Papers 99/72, International Monetary Fund.
  18. Watson, Mark W, 1993. "Measures of Fit for Calibrated Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1011-41, December.
  19. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  20. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 1998. "The new neoclassical synthesis and the role of monetary policy," Working Paper 98-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  21. Argia Sbordone, 2002. "An optimizing model of U.S. wage and price dynamics," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  22. King, Robert G & Watson, Mark W, 1996. "Money, Prices, Interest Rates and the Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 35-53, February.
  23. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1995. "The [un]importance of forward-looking behavior in price specifications," Working Papers 95-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  24. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Roberts, John M, 1995. "New Keynesian Economics and the Phillips Curve," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 975-84, November.
  26. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
  27. Julio Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1997. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 297-361 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-55, December.
  29. 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.
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