Optimal Price Setting With Observation and Menu Costs

TitleOptimal Price Setting With Observation and Menu Costs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsAlvarez, FE, Lippi, F, Paciello, L
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Economics

We study the price-setting problem of a firm in the presence of both observation and menu costs. The firm optimally decides when to “review” costly information on the adequacy of its price. Upon each review, the firm chooses whether to adjust its price, one or more times, before the next price review. Each price adjustment entails paying a menu cost. The firm's choices map into several statistics: the frequency of price reviews, the frequency of price adjustments, the size distribution of price changes, and the hazard rate of price adjustments. The simultaneous presence of observation and menu costs produces complementarities that change the predictions of simpler models featuring one cost only. For instance, infrequent observations may reflect a high menu cost rather than high observation costs: in spite of these complementarities, we show that the ratio of the two costs is identified by several statistics on price observations and adjustments.