A 'pricing-to-market' model with unobserved variables: explaining New Zealand's import prices
A model of 'pricing-to-market' (PTM) behaviour in import prices is developed for a small open economy to allow for two measurement problems: (i) that neither the marginal production cost of imported goods nor their corresponding (foreign-currency) export price are observable by the econometrician; (ii) that PTM behaviour, if it exists, alters the relationship between foreign countries' export price indices for total exports and the true, unobservable price index. The analysis shows that variations in the measured markup on import prices depends on the degree to which domestic demand is synchronized with world demand, whether bilateral exchange rate movements are due to domestic or foreign factors, and on the degree to which PTM behaviour differs from such behaviour in other countries. Equations estimated for the price of New Zealand (NZ) imports from the US strongly supports the model, and finds that the degree of PTM by US exporters in response to price and exchange rate movements is substantially greater in NZ than the average for other countries. However, the degree of PTM in NZ in response to excess demand is similar to that of other countries.