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The effects of irreversibility and uncertainty on capital accumulation

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  • Abel, Andrew B.
  • Eberly, Janice C.

Abstract

When investment decisions cannot be reversed and returns to capital are uncertain, the firm faces a higher user cost of capital than if it could reverse its decisions. This higher user cost tends to reduce the firm’s capital stock. Opposing this effect is the irreversibility constraint itself: when the constraint binds, the firm would like to sell capital but cannot. This effect tends to increase the firm’s capital stock. We show that a firm with irreversible investment may have a higher or a lower expected capital stock, even in the long run, compared to an otherwise identical firm with reversible investment. Furthermore, an increase in uncertainty can either increase or decrease the expected long-run capital stock under irreversibility relative to that under reversibility. However, changes in the expected growth rate of demand, the interest rate, the capital share in output, and the price elasticity of demand all have unambiguous effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 44 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 339-377

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:44:y:1999:i:3:p:339-377

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  1. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-38, October.
  2. Giuseppe Bertola, 1991. "Labor Turnover Costs and Average Labor Demand," NBER Working Papers 3866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert S. Pindyck, 1986. "Irreversible Investment, Capacity Choice, and the Value of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 1980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  5. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-33, March.
  6. Bertola, Guiseppe & Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Irreversibility and Aggregate Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 223-46, April.
  7. Hartman, Richard, 1972. "The effects of price and cost uncertainty on investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 258-266, October.
  8. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Entry and Exit Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 620-38, June.
  9. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
  10. Pindyck, Robert S, 1993. "A Note on Competitive Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 273-77, March.
  11. Dixit, Avinash, 1991. "Irreversible Investment with Price Ceilings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 541-57, June.
  12. Dumas, Bernard, 1991. "Super contact and related optimality conditions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 675-685, October.
  13. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly, 1993. "An Exact Soultion for the Investment and Market Value of a Firm Facing Uncertainty, Adjustment Costs, and Irreversibility," NBER Working Papers 4412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Abel, Andrew B & Eberly, Janice C, 1996. "Optimal Investment with Costly Reversibility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 581-93, October.
  15. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "On the Sign of the Investment-Uncertainty Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 279-88, March.
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