Repricing Avalanches

68 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021 Last revised: 5 Oct 2023

See all articles by Makoto Nirei

Makoto Nirei

University of Tokyo

José A. Scheinkman

Columbia University; Princeton University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 6, 2023


We present a menu-cost pricing model with a large but finite number n of firms. A firm's nominal price increase lowers other firms' relative prices, thereby inducing further nominal price increases. The distribution of these repricing avalanches converges, as n increases to infinity, to a mixture of Generalized Poisson Distributions (GPD) with an index of dispersion equal to 1/(1-theta)^2, where theta is determined by the equilibrium of the continuous limit. We calibrate the model to the U.S. experience during 1988-2005 and obtain a theta surprisingly close to unity. Simulations show that a GPD fits well the distribution of avalanches but that, once we account for the dynamics, the multiplier effect derived from a firm adjusting prices by paying menu costs is even larger. We also show that the model can account for the positive relationship between inflation level and volatility that was observed in 1988-2005 in the U.S.

Keywords: State-dependent pricing, menu costs, strategic complementarity, inflation volatility, aggregate fluctuations, self-organized criticality, Generalized Poisson distribution

JEL Classification: E31

Suggested Citation

Nirei, Makoto and Scheinkman, José, Repricing Avalanches (October 6, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Makoto Nirei (Contact Author)

University of Tokyo ( email )

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Tokyo, 113-0033

José Scheinkman

Columbia University ( email )

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Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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