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Menu Costs and Markov Inflation: A Theoretical Revision with New Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Christian Ahlin

    (Department of Economics Vanderbilt University)

  • Mototsugu Shintani

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

We revisit a foundational theoretical paper in the menu cost literature, Sheshinski and Weiss (1983), one of the few to treat stochastic inflation with persistent deviations from trend. In contrast to the original finding, we find that optimal pricing in this environment entails using different (s,S) bands in high-inflation and low-inflation states of the world. The low-inflation band is strictly contained within the high-inflation band. This revised solution has very different implications from the original one. Firms are generally risk-loving, not risk-averse, with respect to inflation. An increase in the variance of inflation increases price dispersion when inflation is high and decreases price dispersion when inflation is low. On an aggregate level, this optimal pricing would lead to bunching of prices and non-neutrality of money in the setting of Caplin and Spulber (1987). To test the main finding, we construct an establishment-level dataset from the months surrounding Mexico's Tequila crisis, in 1995. In the high-inflation state, price increases are larger and establishments allow their prices to vary more widely around their respective long-run mean relative prices. Cross-establishment price dispersion is lower, but this result seems due to decreased establishment heterogeneity rather than narrower (s,S) bands. Overall, the evidence suggests that establishments employ wider (s,S) bands in the high-inflation state.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Ahlin & Mototsugu Shintani, 2006. "Menu Costs and Markov Inflation: A Theoretical Revision with New Evidence," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0610, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0610
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Makoto Nirei & José A. Scheinkman, 2021. "Repricing Avalanches," NBER Working Papers 28654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Makoto Nirei & José A. Scheinkman, 2021. "Repricing Avalanches," CARF F-Series CARF-F-510, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo.
    4. Benjamin Eden, 2018. "Price Dispersion And Demand Uncertainty: Evidence From U.S. Scanner Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(3), pages 1035-1075, August.
    5. Caglayan, Mustafa & Filiztekin, Alpay & Rauh, Michael T., 2008. "Inflation, price dispersion, and market structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1187-1208, October.
    6. Crucini, Mario J. & Shintani, Mototsugu & Tsuruga, Takayuki, 2010. "Accounting for persistence and volatility of good-level real exchange rates: The role of sticky information," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 48-60, May.
    7. Crucini, Mario J. & Shintani, Mototsugu, 2008. "Persistence in law of one price deviations: Evidence from micro-data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 629-644, April.
    8. Juliane Scharff & Sven Schreiber, 2012. "Evidence on the effects of inflation on price dispersion under indexation," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 291-311, August.
    9. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2009. "Why Is a Financial Crisis Important? The Significance of the Relaxation of the Assumption of Perfect Competition," International Journal of Business and Economics, School of Management Development, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 8(2), pages 91-114, August.
    10. Andrei Levchenko & Javier Cravino, 2015. "The Distributional Consequences of Exchange Rate Devaluations," 2015 Meeting Papers 1060, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Ross D. Hickey & David S. Jacks, 2011. "Nominal rigidities and retail price dispersion in Canada over the twentieth century," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 44(3), pages 749-780, August.
    12. Javier Cravino & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2017. "The Distributional Consequences of Large Devaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3477-3509, November.
    13. Elberg, Andrés, 2016. "Sticky prices and deviations from the Law of One Price: Evidence from Mexican micro-price data," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 191-203.
    14. Erwan Gautier, 2009. "Les ajustements microéconomiques des prix : une synthèse des modèles théoriques et résultats empiriques," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 119(3), pages 323-372.
    15. Giulietti, Monica & Otero, Jesús & Waterson, Michael, 2020. "Rigidities and adjustments of daily prices to costs: Evidence from supermarket data," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    16. Benjamin Eden & Maya Eden & Jonah Yuen, 2016. "Inside The Price Dispersion Box: Evidence From Us Scanner Data," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 16-00017, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    (s; S) policy; neutrality of money; optimal pricing; regime switching;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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