Dynamics of the U.S. price distribution
© 2018 We use microdata underlying U.S. consumer, producer and import price indices to document how the distribution of price changes evolves over time. Two striking features characterize pricing across all three datasets: (1) Frequency of price adjustments is countercyclical. (2) Frequency of price adjustments is correlated with variance. Conversely, other statistics that have received recent attention, like kurtosis, do not exhibit uniform patterns across our data sets. What implications do our empirical results have for monetary policy? Using a flexible accounting framework that collapses the high-dimensional distribution of price changes into a single measure of aggregate price flexibility, we show that flexibility is highly variable and countercyclical.
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