Targeted Price Controls on Supermarket Products
51 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 2019
We study the impact of targeted price controls on supermarket products in Argentina between 2007 and 2015. Using web-scraping methods, we collected daily prices for controlled and non-controlled goods and examined the differential effects of the policy on inflation, product availability, entry and exit, and price dispersion. We first show that price controls have only a small and temporary effect on inflation that reverses itself as soon as the controls are lifted. Second, contrary to common beliefs, we find that controlled goods are consistently available for sale. Third, firms compensate for price controls by introducing new product varieties at higher prices, thereby increasing price dispersion within narrow categories. Overall, our results show that targeted price controls are just as ineffective as more traditional forms of price controls in reducing aggregate inflation.
Keywords: Price dispersion, Inflation
JEL Classification: E31, D22, L11, L81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation