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Heterogeneous car buyers: a stylized fact
Using a new dataset, we document a systematic pattern in the demographic characteristics of car buyers over the model year: as vehicle prices fall over the model year, so do buyer incomes. This pattern is consistent with price-insensitive buyers purchasing early in the year, while others wait until prices decline, and suggests price skimming (i.e. intertemporal price discrimination). Such consumer heterogeneity over the model year raises questions for measuring quality improvements in new goods.
AUTHORS: Nalewaik, Jeremy J.; Bridgman, Benjamin; Aizcorbe, Ana M.
Prices, production, and inventories over the automotive model year
This paper studies the within-model-year pricing and production of new automobiles. Using new monthly data on U.S. transaction prices, we document that for the typical new vehicle, prices typically fall over the model year at a 9.2 percent annual rate. Concurrently, both sales and inventories are hump shaped. To explain these time series, we formulate a market equilibrium model for new automobiles in which inventory and pricing decisions are made simultaneously. On the demand side, we use micro-level data to estimate time-varying aggregate demand curves for each vehicle. On the supply side, we solve a dynamic programming model of an automaker that, while able to produce only one vintage of a product at a time, may accumulate inventories and consequently sell multiple vintages of the same product simultaneously. The profit maximizing pricing and production strategies under a build-to-stock inventory policy imply declining prices and hump-shaped sales and inventories of the magnitudes observed in the data. Further, roughly half of the price decline is driven by inventory control considerations, as opposed to decreasing demand.
AUTHORS: Hall, George J.; Dunn, Wendy E.; Copeland, Adam
Incentives and prices for motor vehicles: what has been happening in recent years?
We address the construction of price indexes for consumer vehicles using data collected from a national sample of dealerships. The dataset contains highly disaggregate data on actual sales prices and quantities, along with information on customer cash rebates, financing terms, and much more. Using these data, we are able to capture the actual cash and financing incentives taken by consumers, and we demonstrate that their inclusion in measures of consumer vehicle prices is important. We also document other features of retail vehicle markets that interact and overlap with price measurement issues. In particular, we construct vehicle price indexes under different assumptions about what constitutes a "new" product in moving from one model year to the next. For the period that we study (1999 to 2003), a period during which incentives became more widespread and new model introductions rose, our preferred price index drops faster than the CPI for new vehicles.
AUTHORS: Corrado, Carol; Dunn, Wendy E.; Otoo, Maria Ward
The price of gasoline and the demand for fuel economy: evidence from monthly new vehicles sales data
This paper uses a unique data set of monthly new vehicle sales by detailed model from 1978- 2007, and implements a new identification strategy to estimate the effect of the price of gasoline on consumer demand for fuel economy. We control for unobserved vehicle and consumer characteristics by using within model-year changes in the price of gasoline and vehicle sales. We find a significant demand response, as nearly half of the decline in market share of U.S. manufacturers from 2002-2007 was due to the increase in the price of gasoline. On the other hand, an increase in the gasoline tax would only modestly affect average fuel economy.
AUTHORS: Klier, Thomas H.; Linn, Joshua
Comparing location decisions of domestic and foreign auto supplier plants
Plant locations in the U.S. auto industry have been moving southward for some time now. This paper utilizes a comprehensive dataset of the U.S. auto industry and focuses on plant location decisions of auto supplier plants that were opened less than 15 years ago in the U.S. We find that agglomeration continues to matter: suppliers want to be close to each other as well as to their assembly plant customers. We also find evidence of differences in location factors for domestic and foreign suppliers. Foreign suppliers exhibit a stronger preference to be near highways, other foreign suppliers and foreign assembly plants. That helps explain the different location patterns observed for these two groups within the auto region.
AUTHORS: Klier, Thomas H.; Ma, Paul; McMillen, Daniel P.
Economy on cruise control in 2010 and 2011
According to participants in the Chicago Fed?s annual Automotive Outlook Symposium, solid economic growth is forecasted for the nation this year and in 2011. Inflation is expected to remain contained, but the unemployment rate is anticipated to remain high. Light vehicle sales are forecasted to improve moderately in 2010 and 2011.
AUTHORS: Strauss, William A.; Lombardi, Britton
Determinants of automobile loan default and prepayment
The authors examine whether a borrower?s choice of automobile reveals information about future loan performance. They find that loans on most luxury automobiles have a higher probability of prepayment, while loans on most economy automobiles have a lower probability of default, even when holding traditional risk factors, such as income and credit score, constant.
AUTHORS: Agarwal, Sumit; Ambrose, Brent W.; Chomsisengphet, Souphala
Corporate average fuel economy standards and the market for new vehicles
This paper presents an overview of the economics literature on the effect of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on the new vehicle market. Since 1978, CAFE has imposed fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. market. This paper reviews the history of the standards, followed by a discussion of the major upcoming changes in implementation and stringency. It describes strategies that firms can use to meet the standards and reviews the CAFE literature as it applies to the new vehicle market. The paper concludes by highlighting areas for future research in light of the upcoming changes to CAFE.
AUTHORS: Klier, Thomas H.; Linn, Joshua
Exchange rate pass-through, markups, and inventories
A large body of research has established that exporters do not fully adjust their prices across countries in response to exchange rate movements, but instead allow their markups to vary. But while markups are difficult to observe directly, we show in this paper that inventory-sales ratios provide an observable counterpart. We then find evidence that inventory-sales ratios of imported vehicles respond to exchange rate movements to a degree consistent with pass-through on the order of 50 to 75 percent, on the high end of the range found in the literature.
AUTHORS: Copeland, Adam; Kahn, James A.
Arm's-length transactions as a source of incomplete cross-border transmission: the case of autos
A growing share of international trade occurs through intra-firm transactions-those between domestic and foreign subsidiaries of a multinational firm. The difficulties associated with writing and enforcing a vertical contract compound when a product must cross a national border, and may explain the high rate of multinational trade across such borders. We show that this common cross-border organization of the firm may have implications for the well-documented incomplete transmission of shocks across borders. We present new evidence of a positive relationship between an industry's share of multinational trade and its rate of exchange rate pass-through to prices. We then develop a structural econometric model with both manufacturers and retailers to quantify how firms' organization of their activities across borders affects their pass-through of a foreign cost shock. We apply the model to data from the auto market. Counterfactual experiments show why cross-border transmission may be much higher for a multinational transaction than for an arm's-length transaction. In the structural model, firms' pass-through of foreign cost shocks is on average 29 percentage points lower in arm's-length transactions than in multinational transactions because the higher markups from a double optimization along the distribution chain create more opportunity for markup adjustment following a shock. Since arm's-length transactions account for about 60 percent of U.S. imports, this difference may explain up to 20 percent of the incomplete transmission of foreign-cost shocks to the United States in the aggregate.
AUTHORS: Villas-Boas, Sofia Berto; Hellerstein, Rebecca