Prices, Markups and Trade Reform

48 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2012

See all articles by Jan De Loecker

Jan De Loecker

Princeton University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Amit Khandelwal

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Nina Pavcnik

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2012

Abstract

This paper examines how prices, markups and marginal costs respond to trade liberalization. We develop a framework to estimate markups from production data with multi-product firms. This approach does not require assumptions on the market structure or demand curves faced by firms, nor assumptions on how firms allocate their inputs across products. We exploit quantity and price information to disentangle markups from quantity-based productivity, and then compute marginal costs by dividing observed prices by the estimated markups. We use India’s trade liberalization episode to examine how firms adjust these performance measures. Not surprisingly, we find that trade liberalization lowers factory-gate prices. However, the price declines are small relative to the declines in marginal costs, which fall predominantly because of the input tariff liberalization. The reason is that firms offset their reductions in marginal costs by raising markups. This limited pass-through of cost reductions attenuates the reform’s impact on prices. Our results demonstrate substantial heterogeneity and variability in markups across firms and time and suggest that producers benefited relative to consumers, at least immediately after the reforms. To the extent that higher firm profits lead to the new product introductions and growth, long-term gains to consumers may be substantially higher.

Keywords: input tariffs, markups, pass-through, productivity, trade liberalization

JEL Classification: F01, L01

Suggested Citation

De Loecker, Jan and Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou and Khandelwal, Amit Kumar and Pavcnik, Nina, Prices, Markups and Trade Reform (March 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8900. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2034118

Jan De Loecker (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~jdeloeck/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Amit Kumar Khandelwal

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/akhandelwal/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/people/amit_khandelwal

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Nina Pavcnik

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

6106 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2537 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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