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Large Firm Dynamics and the Business Cycle

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  • Vasco M. Carvalho
  • Basile Grassi

Abstract

Do large firm dynamics drive the business cycle? We answer this question by developing a quantitative theory of aggregate fluctuations caused by firm-level disturbances alone. We show that a standard heterogeneous firm dynamics setup already contains in it a theory of the business cycle, without appealing to aggregate shocks. We offer an analytical characterization of the law of motion of the aggregate state in this class of models, the firm size distribution, and show that aggregate output and productivity dynamics display: (i) persistence, (ii) volatility, and (iii) time-varying second moments. We explore the key role of moments of the firm size distribution, and, in particular, the role of large firm dynamics, in shaping aggregate fluctuations, theoretically, quantitatively, and in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Vasco M. Carvalho & Basile Grassi, 2019. "Large Firm Dynamics and the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(4), pages 1375-1425, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:109:y:2019:i:4:p:1375-1425
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20151317
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    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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