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Aggregate returns to scale: why measurement is imprecise

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Author Info

  • Harold L. Cole
  • Lee E. Ohanian

Abstract

The extent to which there are aggregate returns to scale at the level of aggregate production has important implications both for the types of shocks generating business cycles and for optimal policy. However, prior attempts to measure the extent of these returns using instrumental variable techniques have yielded quite imprecise estimates. In this article, we show that the production shocks implied by a range of returns to scale that encompasses both large increasing returns and large decreasing returns are almost identical. This makes clear that there is a fundamental reason for the imprecision of prior estimates and casts doubt on our ability to generate more precise estimates

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (1999)
Issue (Month): Sum ()
Pages: 19-28

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1999:i:sum:p:19-28:n:v.23no.3

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Related research

Keywords: Business cycles;

References

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  1. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 67-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jess Benhabib & Roger E.A. Farmer, 1992. "Indeterminacy and Increasing Returns," UCLA Economics Working Papers 646, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
  4. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1991. "Productive externalities and business cycles," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 53, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Hammond,J. Daniel, 1996. "Theory and Measurement," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521552059, October.
  6. Ellen R. McGrattan, 1994. "A progress report on business cycle models," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 2-16.
  7. Kamihigashi, Takashi, 1996. "Real business cycles and sunspot fluctuations are observationally equivalent," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 105-117, February.
  8. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1996. "Reassessing aggregate returns to scale with standard theory and measurement," Working Papers 566, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Basu, Susanto, 1996. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 719-51, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Roger E. A. Farmer & Andreas Beyer, 2004. "On the Indeterminacy of New Keynesian Economics," 2004 Meeting Papers 187, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Mark Weder, 2004. "A Heliocentric Journey into Germany's Great Depression," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2004 53, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
  3. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
  4. Mark Weder, 2004. "Taylor Rules: intercepting expectations," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2003 110, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
  5. Jang-Ting Guo & Kevin Lansing, 1999. "Fiscal policy, increasing returns, and endogenous fluctuations," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 99-08, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Beyer, Andreas & Farmer, Roger E A, 2003. "On the Indeterminacy of Determinacy and Indeterminacy," CEPR Discussion Papers 4101, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Weder, Mark, 2003. "Taylor Rules in Practice: How Central Banks can Intercept Sunspot Expectations," CEPR Discussion Papers 3899, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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