Toward a Theory of Rigidities
This paper presents a theory of rigidity, or more properly inertia, in the responses of economic variables to changing environments. The theory rests on three fundamental assumptions: (1) that firms are risk averse, (2) that firms are uncertain of the impacts of changing decision variables and (3) that this uncertainty increases with the size of deviations in decision variables from appropriately defined past level. Under these circumstances an optimal portfolio of incremental decision variable adjustments exists which (a) takes variance minimizing adoptions to environmental change as a point of departure and then (b) is weighted in favor of changes in variables whose effects are less uncertain. In considering price and quantity adjustments, this implies that price and wage adjustments should largely incorporate expected inflation and, from that point, should be small relative to quantity adjustments, since in most situations the uncertainties associated with the consequences of quantity adjustment should be smaller than those associated with price adjustments.
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Volume (Year): 79 (1989)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
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- Prescott, Edward C., 1986.
"Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement,"
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- Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz & Andrew Weiss, 1984. "Informational Imperfections in the Capital Market and Macro-Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 1335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1984. "Theories of Wage Rigidity," NBER Working Papers 1442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
- Oliver Jean Blanchard, 1987. "Aggregate and Individual Price Adjustment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(1), pages 57-122. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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