Working papers

PDF The Welfare Effects of Supply and Demand Frictions in a Dynamic Pricing Game (R&R)
with Fabio M. Sanches, Daniel Silva Jr., and Tang Srisuma
Abstract

We propose a dynamic pricing model in a multiproduct oligopoly setting, in which consumers exhibit inertia in their choices and firms face costly price adjustments. The primitives of the model, including firms’ discount factor, are estimated from scanner data. Our context is the UK butter and margarine industry. We use the model to evaluate the effects of frictions on price dynamics, profits and consumer welfare. First, we show that manufacturers’ discount rates vary between 0.92 and 0.99, suggesting that pricing decisions – even for simple consumer goods – have an important intertemporal component. Second, in line with evidence from the macro literature, we find that price adjustment costs are substantial and represent between 24-34% of manufacturers’ net margins. Third, our model predicts that the removal of these costs reduces persistence in prices, increases firms’ profits but has little effect on consumer surplus. Fourth, we show that when price adjustments are costly the effects of consumer inertia on prices are much more pronounced than in the standard model where firms can adjust prices freely. This implies that if price adjustment costs are not factored in researchers may underestimate the effects of consumer inertia on prices.

PDF Identification and Estimation of a Search Model: A Procurement Auction Approach
with Fabio M. Sanches, Daniel Silva Jr., and Tang Srisuma
Abstract

We propose an empirical model of nonsequential consumer search model where both consumers and firms are heterogeneous. Consumers differ in search costs. Firms have private costs of production. We characterize pure strategy Bayesian Nash equilibria of the game that generate continuous price distributions in a system of equations. We provide conditions under which the model can be nonparametrically identified in closed-form from data on market shares and prices. In particular, we identify the probability density function (pdf) of firm’s costs using a similar strategy to Guerre, Perrigne and Vuong (2000)’s as firms decisions can be cast as a procurement auction problem. Due to a particular feature of the equilibrium, the traditional kernel estimator for the cost pdf cannot reach the optimal convergence rate uniformly over its entire support. It can come arbitrarily close to it over an expanding support after a suitable transformation. Our results apply to both models with vertically differentiated or non-differentiated products

PDF Value of Information, Search and Competition in the UK Mortgage Market
with May Rostom
Abstract

We formulate a structural model of search with lender and borrower heterogeneity to estimate the value of information provided to UK households by mortgage intermediaries (brokers). Using administrative data on loans originated in 2016 and 2017, we document the existence of a substantial degree of unexplained price dispersion and observe that while mortgages obtained through brokers are on average cheaper, borrowers who use intermediaries end up paying more once commissions are factored in. This fact underpins the assumption that brokers are used by borrowers with higher search costs, which helps nonparametrically identify and estimate the distributions of search cost and banks’ cost of providing the loan. Our results show that search costs vary by demographic groups and brokers’ presence exerts a negative pressure on lenders’ market power. To estimate how intermediation affects consumer surplus, we consider a counterfactual where broker advice is not available, finding that brokers’ presence reduces average monthly costs by 33.7% and welfare losses caused by search frictions by 16.5%, though the results differ by borrower and loan characteristics. In a second counterfactual we look at the effects of market centralization, finding that such a regulation would halve lenders’ markups and lower monthly costs of an average mortgage by 6.4%.


Work in progress

Residential Sorting and the Impact of Transport Investments in London
with Jonathan Halket, Lars Nesheim, and Polly Simpson
Project received funding from ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre grant no. 089
Abstract

We combine multiple data sources to construct an extensive dataset on London property prices, rents, residential amenities, travel times and wages. These data are then used to estimate a structural location choice model in the spirit of Ahlfeldt, Redding, Sturm, and Wolf (2015) to explain residential sorting patterns and the impact of planning decisions and infrastructure investments on house prices, rents, and location choices. To control for endogenous amenities we leverage techniques developed in the IO literature on demand estimation, such as BLP instruments.

Planned Obsolescence in a Durable Good Oligopoly
with Fabio M. Sanches, Daniel Silva Jr., and Tang Srisuma
Project received funding from City University of London Research Pump-Priming Fund
Abstract

The paper introduces a dynamic oligopoly model in which firms optimally choose investment in durability of their products to study whether manufacturers engage in planned obsolescence, that is sell products with socially suboptimal level of durability. We modify the empirical framework of Goettler and Gordon (2011) to allow for endogenous durability which is excluded from consumers’ flow utility but affects the probability of repurchase. To infer durability levels, we use a novel, detailed dataset which records failure rates of different models of HDDs to estimate brand- and capacity-specific survival functions. We supplement this with data on HDD sales and prices to estimate the demand side of the model.


Policy work

Link Estimating the Benefits of Transport Investment
with Jonathan Halket, Lars Nesheim, and Polly Simpson
Description

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) commissioned a team of academics and researchers at the IFS and UCL to create a software tool that estimates how land values respond to changes in land purpose or infrastructure improvements.




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