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An Empirical Model of Inventory Investment by Durable Commodity Intermediaries

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  • 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. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
  2. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Seasonality, Cost Shocks and the Production Smoothing Model of Inventories," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 1-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. 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.
  4. Mark Bils & James A. Kahn, 1999. "What inventory behavior tells us about business cycles," Staff Reports 92, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  5. John Rust, 1997. "Using Randomization to Break the Curse of Dimensionality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 487-516, May.
  6. 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.
  7. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 1996. "(S, s) inventory policies in general equilibrium," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. 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.
  9. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Inventories, Stock-Outs and Production Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 283-93, April.
  10. Alan S. Blinder, 1984. "Can The Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," NBER Working Papers 1257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Martin S. Eichenbaum, 1988. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," NBER Working Papers 2523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1982. "The Production and Inventory Behavior of the American Automobile Industry," NBER Working Papers 0891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Deaton, Angus & Laroque, Guy, 1992. "On the Behaviour of Commodity Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 1-23, January.
  16. Blinder, Alan S, 1986. "More on the Speed of Adjustment in Inventory Models," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(3), pages 355-65, August.
  17. Williams,Jeffrey C. & Wright,Brian D., 1991. "Storage and Commodity Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521326162.
  18. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Production, Sales and the Change in Inventories: An Identity that Doesn't Add Up," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 20-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. John Rust & Joseph Traub & Henryk Wozniakowski, 1999. "No Curse of Dimensionality for Contraction Fixed Points Even in the Worst Case," Computational Economics 9902001, EconWPA.
  23. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. George Alessandria & Joseph Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2008. "Inventories, Lumpy Trade, and Large Devaluations," NBER Working Papers 13790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Oleksiy Kryvtsov & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2009. "Inventories, Markups, and Real Rigidities in Menu Cost Models," Working Papers 09-6, Bank of Canada.
  3. John Rust & George Hall, 2003. "Middlemen versus Market Makers: A Theory of Competitive Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(2), pages 353-403, April.
  4. Aubhik Khan & Julie K. Thomas, 2003. "Inventories and the business cycle: an equilibrium analysis of (S,s) policies," Staff Report 329, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Joao Miguel Ejarque, 2008. "Evaluating the Economic Cost of Strategic Storage of Natural Gas," Economics Discussion Papers 658, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Ejarque, João Miguel, 2011. "Evaluating the economic cost of natural gas strategic storage restrictions," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 44-55, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Jia Yan & John Liu, 2008. "Instability of Dynamic Inventory Systems," Working Papers 2008-23, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.

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