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Finance and Economics Discussion Series
Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page Yesterday's Bad Times are Today's Good Old Times: Retail Price Changes in the 1890s were Smaller, Less Frequent, and More Permanent
Alan Kackmeister

Abstract: This paper compares nominal price rigidity in retail stores during two 28-month periods: 1889-1891 and 1997-1999. The 1889-1891 microdata price quotes show: 1. a lower frequency of price changes; 2. a smaller average magnitude of price changes; 3. fewer "small" price changes; and, 4. fewer temporary price reductions. These differences are consistent with the 1889-1891 period having a higher cost of changing prices resulting in less adjustment to transitory price shocks. Changes in the retailing environment that may have led to a higher cost of changing prices in 1889-1891 are discussed.

Keywords: Nominal price rigidity, frequency of price change

Full paper (219 KB PDF)

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Last update: April 29, 2005