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Uncertainty and investment dynamics

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  • John Van Reenen
  • Nick Bloom
  • Steve Bond

Abstract

This paper shows that, with (partial) irreversibility, higher uncertainty reduces the impact effect of demand shocks on investment. Uncertainty increases real option values making firms more cautious when investing or disinvesting. This is confirmed both numerically for a model with a rich mix of adjustment costs, time-varying uncertainty, and aggregation over investment decisions and time, and also empirically for a panel of manufacturing firms. These cautionary effects of uncertainty are large - going from the lower quartile to the upper quartile of the uncertainty distribution typically halves the first year investment response to demand shocks. This implies the responsiveness of firms to any given policy stimulus may be much lower in periods of high uncertainty, such as after major shocks like OPEC I and 9/11.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2645/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 2645.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:2645

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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/
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Keywords: Investment; uncertainty; real options; panel data;

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References

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  1. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2000. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 7925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Øivind Anti Nilsen & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2003. "Zeros and Lumps in Investment: Empirical Evidence on Irreversibilities and Nonconvexities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1021-1037, November.
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & John V. Leahy, 1996. "Fixed Costs: The Demise of Marginal q," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1765, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  6. Timothy Erickson & Toni M. Whited, 2000. "Measurement Error and the Relationship between Investment and q," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1027-1057, October.
  7. Diego A. Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2006. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 167-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
  10. Abel, Andrew B. & Eberly, Janice C., 1999. "The effects of irreversibility and uncertainty on capital accumulation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 339-377, December.
  11. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  12. Stephen Bond & Dietmar Harhoff & John Van Reenen, 2003. "Investment, R&D and financial constraints in Britain and Germany," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 771, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  13. Mark Doms & Timothy Dunne, 1994. "Capital Adjustment Patterns in Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 94-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  14. Bertola, Guiseppe & Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Irreversibility and Aggregate Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 223-46, April.
  15. John Y. Campbell & Martin Lettau & Burton G. Malkiel & Yexiao Xu, 2000. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," NBER Working Papers 7590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Leahy, John V & Whited, Toni M, 1996. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Investment: Some Stylized Facts," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(1), pages 64-83, February.
  17. Steve Bond & Alexander Klemm & Rain Newton-Smith & Murtaza Syed & Gertjan Vlieghe, 2004. "The roles of expected profitability, Tobin's Q and cash flow in econometric models of company investment," IFS Working Papers W04/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  18. Eberly, Janice C. & Van Mieghem, Jan A., 1997. "Multi-factor Dynamic Investment under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 345-387, August.
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  20. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1996. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: A Generalized (S,s) Approach," Documentos de Trabajo 12, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  21. Nicholas Bloom, 2000. "The dynamic effects of real options and irreversibility on investment and labour demand," IFS Working Papers W00/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  22. Marcelo L. Veracierto, 2002. "Plant-Level Irreversible Investment and Equilibrium Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 181-197, March.
  23. 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.
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  26. M Arellano & O Bover, 1990. "Another Look at the Instrumental Variable Estimation of Error-Components Models," CEP Discussion Papers dp0007, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  27. Bloom, Nicholas & Bond, Stephen Roy & Van Reenen, John, 2003. "Uncertainty and Company Investment Dynamics: Empirical Evidence for UK Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  28. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 2003. "Financial Frictions and Investment: Requiem in Q," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 710-728, October.
  29. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
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  31. Joanne M. Doyle & Toni M. Whited, 2001. "Fixed Costs Of Adjustment, Coordination, And Industry Investment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 628-637, November.
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