Prices, Profits, and Power: An Analysis of 2021 Firm-Level Markups Mike Konczal and Niko Lusiani Roosevelt Institute June 2022 (Download of a 12 page PDF file)
How to understand and respond to inflation has become one of the central debates of this economic recovery. This research brief is the first to explore the size and distribution of markups (essentially the difference between sales and marginal costs) and profit margins across 3,698 firms operating in the US in 2021…. The evidence of this unusually and suddenly high jump in markups fits all three of the main explanatory stories of inflation being debated—namely those related to changes in demand, supply, and market power. First, we see broad markup increases across many types and sizes of firms, suggesting a demand side of the story. Second, the data points to a historically unique movement of markups between industries in 2021, suggesting a supply story. Lastly, we find that, adjusting for size, pre-pandemic markups are a strong predictor of the increase in markups during 2021, suggesting a role for market power as an explanatory driver of inflation.
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