39 research outputs found

    Implications of Consumer Heterogeneity on Price Measures for Technology Goods

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    Using a new dataset on household purchases of personal computers (PCs), we document positive correlations between buyers' incomes and the prices they pay for seemingly identical PCs. These results suggest that ¯rms may be successful at separating the market and charging di®erent prices to consumers with di®erent levels of willingness to pay. We consider the implications of this kind of market separation for price and quality measurement via a theoretical model based on Mussa and Rosen (1978). The model suggests that, in markets like these, stan- dard methods that do not account for this heterogeneity can understate in°ation in a cost-of-living context. Consistent with the model, our empirical work shows that controlling for income yields indexes that show slower price declines than seen in standard indexes. This understatement of the cost-of-living measure likely mit- igates the unrelated upward biases found in recent studies by Bils (2009), Erickson and Pakes (2010), Broda and Weinstein (2010).

    Price discrimination and business-cycle risk

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    A parsimonious theoretical model of second degree price discrimination suggests that the business cycle will affect the degree to which firms are able to price-discriminate between different consumer types. We analyze price dispersion in the airline industry to assess how price discrimination can expose airlines to aggregate-demand fluctuations. Performing a panel analysis on seventeen years of data covering two business cycles, we find that price dispersion is highly procyclical. Estimates show that a rise in the output gap of 1 percentage point is associated with a 1.9 percent increase in the interquartile range of the price distribution in a market. These results suggest that markups move procyclically in the airline industry, such that during booms in the cycle, firms can significantly raise the markup charged to those with a high willingness to pay. The analysis suggests that this impact on firms' ability to price-discriminate results in additional profit risk, over and above the risk that comes from variations in cost.

    Consumer Heterogeneity and Markups over the Business Cycle: Evidence from the Airline Industry

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    We analyze price dispersion in the airline industry in order to determine the e®ects of the business cycle on markup variations. We ¯nd that the cycle can a®ect the degree to which airlines can price discriminate between di®erent consumer types, ultimately a®ecting the degree of price dispersion. Performing a ¯xed-e®ects panel analysis on 17 years of data covering two business cycles, we ¯nd that price dispersion is highly procyclical. Estimates show that a rise in the output gap of one percentage point increases the interquartile range by 1.6 percent. These results suggest that markups move procyclically in the airline industry, such that during booms in the cycle, the ¯rm can signi¯cantly raise the markup charged to those with high willingness to pay. Our analysis suggests that this impact on the ¯rm's ability to price discriminate imposes extra pro¯t risk to the ¯rm over and above cost variations.

    Decomposing the foreclosure crisis: House price depreciation versus bad underwriting

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    We estimate a model of foreclosure using a data set that includes every residential mortgage, purchase-and-sale, and foreclosure transaction in Massachusetts from 1989 to 2008. We address the identification issues related to the estimation of the effects of house prices on residential foreclosures. We then use the model to study the dramatic increase in foreclosures that occurred in Massachusetts between 2005 and 2008 and conclude that the foreclosure crisis was primarily driven by the severe decline in housing prices that began in the latter part of 2005, not by a relaxation of underwriting standards on which much of the prevailing literature has focused. We argue that relaxed underwriting standards did severely aggravate the crisis by creating a class of homeowners who were particularly vulnerable to the decline in prices. But, as we show in our counterfactual analysis, that emergence alone, in the absence of a price collapse, would not have resulted in the substantial foreclosure boom that was experienced.

    Estimating the New Keynesian Phillips curve: a vertical production chain approach

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    It has become customary to estimate the New Keynesian Phillips Curve (NKPC) with GMM using a large instrument set that includes lags of variables that are ad hoc to the model. Researchers have also conventionally used real unit labor cost (RULC) as the proxy for real marginal cost, even though it is difficult to support its significance. This paper introduces a new proxy for the real marginal cost term as well as a new instrument set, both of which are based on the micro foundations of the vertical chain of production. I find that the new proxy, based on input prices as opposed to wages, provides a more robust and significant fit to the model. Instruments that are based on the vertical chain of production appear to be both more valid and relevant towards the model.Phillips curve ; Keynesian economics

    The impact of competition on technology adoption: an apples-to-PCs analysis

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    We study the effect of market structure on a personal computer manufacturer’s decision to adopt new technology. This industry is unusual because there exist two horizontally segmented retail markets with different degrees of competition: the IBM-compatible (or PC) platform and the Apple platform. We first document that, relative to Apple, producers of PCs typically have more frequent technology adoption, shorter product cycles, and steeper price declines over the product cycle. We then develop a parsimonious vintage-capital model that matches the prices and sales of PC and Apple products. The model predicts that competition is the key driver of the rate at which technology is adopted.Computer industry ; Technological innovations ; Competition

    Implications of Consumer Heterogeneity on Price Measures for Technology Goods ∗

    No full text
    Using a new dataset on household purchases of personal computers (PCs), we document positive correlations between buyers ’ incomes and the prices they pay for seemingly identical PCs. These results suggest that firms may be successful at separating the market and charging different prices to consumers with different levels of willingness to pay. We consider the implications of this kind of market separation for price and quality measurement via a theoretical model based on Mussa and Rosen (1978). The model suggests that, in markets like these, standard methods that do not account for this heterogeneity can understate inflation in a cost-of-living context. Consistent with the model, our empirical work shows that controlling for income yields indexes that show slower price declines than seen in standard indexes. This understatement of the cost-of-living measure likely mitigates the unrelated upward biases found in recent studies by Bils (2009), Erickso
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