Asymmetric price adjustment and loss aversion

Ferman, Bruno
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Asymmetric price adjustment is observed in several markets, most notably gasoline retail: a cost increase is passed through to consumers faster than a cost decrease. I develop a consumer-search model that generates this prediction under loss aversion. A fraction of consumers are ignorant of market prices and can choose to acquire information costly, allowing firms to profit with price dispersion. Asymmetric price adjustment emerges if consumers are loss-averse in relation to a reference price. Higher costs make consumers more willing to search, but also lower the probability of finding low prices, generating convexity in the cost-price relation.

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