Research Topics

Publications on Markup dynamics

There are 3 publications for Markup dynamics.
  • Markups, Profit Shares, and Cost-Push-Profit-Led Inflation

    Working Paper No. 1037 | January 2024
    The post-pandemic surge in inflation was accompanied by a surge in the corporate share of profits. As a result, several economists and policy makers have given to it names such as “profit-led inflation” or “sellers’ inflation.” The present paper discusses the extent to which profit-led inflation, as an explanation for the recent surge in inflation, is compatible with what we know about the price-setting behavior of firms, income distribution, and inflation. We do that in juxtaposition to two recent critiques: that the increase in the profit share is the result of cyclical factors, and that the increase in import prices leads to higher profit shares even under constant markups. We show that there is little evidence that the recent surge in profitability is cyclical in nature. Moreover, after outlining the Structuralist/Kaleckian theories of prices and inflation we argue that profit-led inflation does not require an increase in the markup of the firms and is consistent with these theories. In the face of large import and other price shocks even under constant markups, firms are able to pass the burden of adjustment to real wages. Thus, the term profit-led emphasizes the distributional source and consequences of inflation. We also provide an empirical examination of the markups in the post-pandemic period using data from the Compustat database. We show that, on average, firms were able to increase or maintain their markups, although there is significant heterogeneity across sectors or the position of the firms in the distribution of markups.
    Associated Programs:
    Michalis Nikiforos Simon Grothe Jan David Weber

  • Contractionary Effects of Foreign Price Shocks (and Potentially Expansionary Effects of Inflation)

    Working Paper No. 1028 | August 2023
    Using the model proposed in Krugman and Taylor’s “Contractionary effects of devaluation” (1978), we examine the macroeconomic effects of shocks to foreign prices. We show that these shocks can be contractionary for two reasons: (i) because they imply a loss of income if an economy has a trade deficit or import prices increase proportionally more than export prices; (ii) because there is a redistribution of income from wages to profits and rent, which leads to a decrease in consumption and output (as the wage earner's propensity to consume is higher than those of profit earners and rentiers). An endogenous reaction of nominal wages to the increase in the price level might lead to even higher increases in prices, but mitigates the negative macroeconomic effects of the foreign price shocks because it reduces their negative distributional effects. If the proportional increase in nominal wages is higher than that of domestic prices, the distributional effect becomes positive. The opposite is the case with markups. If they increase in reaction to higher prices, they contribute to further price increases but they also exacerbate the negative distributional effects. The paper also provides an analytical solution for a general case of the model of Krugman and Taylor.
    Associated Program:
    Michalis Nikiforos Simon Grothe

  • Fiscal Policy, Unemployment Insurance, and Financial Crises in a Model of Growth and Distribution

    Working Paper No. 723 | May 2012

    Recently, some have wondered whether a fiscal stimulus plan could reduce the government’s budget deficit. Many also worry that fiscal austerity plans will only bring higher deficits. Issues of this kind involve endogenous changes in tax revenues that occur when output, real wages, and other variables are affected by changes in policy. Few would disagree that various paradoxes of austerity or stimulus might be relevant, but such issues can be clarified a great deal with the help of a complete heterodox model.

    In light of recent world events, this paper seeks to improve our understanding of the dynamics of fiscal policy and financial crises within the context of two-dimensional (2D) and five-dimensional heterodox models. The nonlinear version of the 2D model incorporates curvilinear functions for investment and consumption out of unearned income. To bring in fiscal policy, I make use of a rule with either (1) dual targets of capacity utilization and public production, or (2) a balanced-budget target. Next, I add discrete jumps and policy-regime switches to the model in order to tell a story of a financial crisis followed by a move to fiscal austerity. Then, I return to the earlier model and add three more variables and equations: (1) I model the size of the private- and public-sector labor forces using a constant growth rate and account for their social reproduction by introducing an unemployment-insurance scheme; and (2) I make the markup endogenous, allowing its rate of change to depend, in a possibly nonlinear way, on capacity utilization, the real wage relative to a fixed norm, the employment rate, profitability, and the business sector’s desired capital-stock growth rate. In the conclusion, I comment on the implications of my results for various policy issues.

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