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An Empirical Model of Inventory Investment by Durable Commodity Intermediaries

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Author Info

  • George Hall

    (Yale University)

  • John Rust

    (Yale University)

Abstract

We present a new detailed data set of high-frequency observations on inventory investment by a U.S. steel wholesaler. Our analysis of the data leads to six main conclusions: orders and sales are made infrequently; orders are more volatile than sales; order sizes vary considerably; there is considerable day-to-day variability in sales prices; inventory/sales ratios are unstable; and there are occasional stockouts. We model the firm generically as a durable commodity intermediary. We demonstrate that the firm's behavior at the product level is well approximated by an optimal trading strategy derived from a multi-dimensional nonlinear dynamic programming problem with continuous state and control variables which are subject to frequently binding inequality constraints. We show that the optimal trading strategy takes the form of a generalized (S,s) rule in which the (S,s) bands are decreasing functions of the spot price. We simulate a calibrated version of this model, and show that the simulated data exhibit the key features of inventory investment we observe in our data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9904005.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 12 Apr 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9904005

Note: TeX file, Postscript version submitted, 40 pages
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References

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  1. Eichenbaum, Martin S., 1984. "Rational expectations and the smoothing properties of inventories of finished goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 71-96, July.
  2. Kahn, James A, 1992. "Why Is Production More Volatile Than Sales? Theory and Evidence on the Stockout-Avoidance Motive for Inventory-Holding," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 481-510, May.
  3. Alan S. Blinder, 1986. "More on the Speed of Adjustment in Inventory Models," NBER Working Papers 1913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Deaton, A. & Laroque, G., 1989. "On The Behavior Of Commodity Prices," Papers 145, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  5. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1989. "Seasonality, Cost Shocks, and the Production Smoothing Model of Inventories," NBER Working Papers 2360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1988. "Production, Sales, and the Change in Inventories: An Identity That Doesn`t Add Up," NBER Working Papers 2765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. John Rust, 1997. "A Comparison of Policy Iteration Methods for Solving Continuous-State, Infinite-Horizon Markovian Decision Problems Using Random, Quasi-random, and Deterministic Discretizations," Computational Economics 9704001, EconWPA.
  10. Williams,Jeffrey C. & Wright,Brian D., 2005. "Storage and Commodity Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023399, October.
  11. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 1995. "(S,s) inventory policies in general equilibrium," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 104, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Eichenbaum, Martin, 1989. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 853-64, September.
  13. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
  14. Bils, M. & Kahn, J.A., 1996. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us About Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 428, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  15. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Ramey, Valerie A, 1994. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 593-624, August.
  16. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1982. "The Production and Inventory Behavior of the American Automobile Industry," NBER Working Papers 0891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Hall, George J., 2000. "Non-convex costs and capital utilization: A study of production scheduling at automobile assembly plants," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 681-716, June.
  18. Valerie A. Ramey & Kenneth D. West, 1997. "Inventories," NBER Working Papers 6315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Ramey, Valerie A. & West, Kenneth D., 1999. "Inventories," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 863-923 Elsevier.
  19. John Rust & Joseph Traub & Henryk Wozniakowski, 1999. "No Curse of Dimensionality for Contraction Fixed Points Even in the Worst Case," Computational Economics 9902001, EconWPA.
  20. Alan S. Blinder, 1984. "Can The Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," NBER Working Papers 1257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  22. West, Kenneth D, 1986. "A Variance Bounds Test of the Linear Quadratic Inventory Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 374-401, April.
  23. repec:att:wimass:9429 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. John Rust, 1997. "Using Randomization to Break the Curse of Dimensionality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 487-516, May.
  25. Martin Feldstein & Alan Auerbach, 1976. "Inventory Behavior in Durable-Goods Manufacturing: The Target-Adjustment Model," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 351-408.
  26. Andrew B. Abel, 1985. "Inventories, Stock-Outs, and Production Smoothing," NBER Working Papers 1563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jia Yan & John Liu, 2008. "Instability of Dynamic Inventory Systems," Working Papers 2008-23, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  2. Virgiliu Midrigan & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2008. "Inventories, Markups, and Real Rigidities in Menu Cost Models," 2008 Meeting Papers 487, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Ejarque, João Miguel, 2011. "Evaluating the economic cost of natural gas strategic storage restrictions," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 44-55, January.
  4. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "Inventories, Lumpy Trade, and Large Devaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2304-39, December.
  5. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, 2004. "Inventories and the business cycle: an equilibrium analysis of (S,s) policies," Working Papers 04-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  6. Blume, Lawrence E. & Easley, David & Kleinberg, Jon & Tardos, Éva, 2009. "Trading networks with price-setting agents," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 36-50, September.
  7. Joao Miguel Ejarque, 2008. "Evaluating the Economic Cost of Strategic Storage of Natural Gas," Economics Discussion Papers 658, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  8. John Rust & George Hall, 2001. "Middle Men Versus Market Makers: A Theory of Competitive Exchange," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1299, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. George Hall & John Rust, 2002. "Econometric Methods for Endogenously Sampled Time Series: The Case of Commodity Price Speculation in the Steel Market," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1376, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Florian Zettelmeyer & Fiona Scott Morton & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2006. "Scarcity Rents in Car Retailing: Evidence from Inventory Fluctuations at Dealerships," NBER Working Papers 12177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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