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Do Firms Smooth the Seasonal in Production in a Boom? Theory and Evidence

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  • Stephen G. Cecchetti
  • Anil K Kashyap
  • David W. Wilcox

Abstract

Using disaggregated production data we show that the size of seasonal cycles changes significantly over the course of the business cycle. In particular, during periods of high economy-wide activity, some industries smooth seasonal fluctuations while others exaggerate them. We interpret this finding using a simple analytical model that describes the conditions under which seasonal and cyclical fluctuations can be separated. Our model implies that seasonal fluctuations can safely be disentangled from cyclical fluctuations only when the marginal cost of production is linear, and the variation in demand and cost satisfy certain (restrictive) conditions. The model also suggests that inventory movements can be used to isolate the role of demand shifts in generating any interaction between seasonal cycles and business cycles. Thus, the empirical analysis involves studying the variation in seasonally unadjusted patterns of production and inventory accumulation over different phases of the business cycle. Our finding that seasonals shrink during booms and that firms carry more inventories into high sales seasons during a boom leads us to conclude that for several industries, marginal cost slopes up at an increasing rate. Conversely, in a couple of industries we find that seasonal swings in production are exaggerated during booms and that inventories are drawn down prior to high sales seasons, suggesting that marginal costs curves flatten as production increases. Overall, we find considerable evidence that there are non-linear interactions between business cycles and seasonal cycles.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5011.

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Date of creation: Feb 1995
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5011

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  1. Ray C. Fair, 1989. "The Production Smoothing Model Is Alive and Well," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 896, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. John Haltiwanger & Russell Cooper, 1992. "The Aggregate Implications Of Machine Replacement: Theory And Evidence," Working Papers 92-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Beaulieu, J. Joseph & Miron, Jeffrey A., 1991. "The seasonal cycle in U.S. manufacturing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 115-118, October.
  4. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Valerie A. Ramey, 1992. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," NBER Working Papers 4105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Spencer D. Krane, 1991. "Induced seasonality and production-smoothing models of inventory behavior," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 121, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Alan S. Blinder, 1984. "Can The Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," NBER Working Papers 1257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. J. Joseph Beaulieu & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1991. "Why Do Countries and Industries with Large Seasonal Cycles Also Have Large Business Cycles?," NBER Working Papers 3635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  10. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1993. "Dynamic General Equilibrium Models with Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 4502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1983. "The Production and Inventory Behavior of the American Automobile Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 365-400, June.
  12. Andrews, Donald W. K., 1998. "Hypothesis testing with a restricted parameter space," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 155-199, May.
  13. Robert B. Barsky & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1989. "The Seasonal Cycle and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 2688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ramey, Valerie A, 1991. "Nonconvex Costs and the Behavior of Inventories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 306-34, April.
  15. Kenneth D. West, 1993. "Inventory Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1997. "Measuring short-run inflation for central bankers," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 143-155.
  2. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1995. "The seasonality of consumer prices," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 12-23.
  3. Charles A. Fleischman, 1996. "The endogeneity of employment adjustment costs: the tradeoff between efficiency and flexibility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1996-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Stephen G. Cecchetti & Anil K Kashyap, 1996. "International Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. George J. Hall, 1997. "Non-Convex Costs and Capital Utilization: A Study of Production Scheduling at Automobile Assembly Plants," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1169, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. George J. Hall, 1996. "Non-convex costs and capital utilization: a study of production and inventories at automobile assembly plants," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Tomiura, Eiichi, 1998. "Correlation of seasonal variation and nonseasonal variation of production at the establishment level," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 201-205, May.

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