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Taking Stock: A Critical Assessment of Recent Research on Inventories

Author

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  • Alan S. Blinder
  • Louis J. Maccini

Abstract

Empirical and theoretical aspects of inventory behavior became hot topics in the 1950s and early 1960s. No one seemed to notice the tension that was developing between the emerging macroeconomic and microeconomic views of inventories. Macroeconomists routinely thought of inventories as a destabilizing factor, yet the prevailing micro theory viewed inventories as a stabilizing factor. It was a fascinating question that was barely explored. Instead somewhat inexplicably, interest in inventories dried up, as if inventories were of minor economic significance and little intrinsic interest. By the early 1980s, then, economists once again knew something they had known in the 1950s: that inventory investment is of first-order importance in business cycles. But they were also beginning to realize that the standard production-smoothing/buffer-stock model of inventories was in deep trouble. This paper focuses on developments since that realization.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Blinder & Louis J. Maccini, 1991. "Taking Stock: A Critical Assessment of Recent Research on Inventories," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 73-96, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:5:y:1991:i:1:p:73-96
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.5.1.73
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Haltiwanger, John C & Maccini, Louis J, 1988. "A Model of Inventory and Layoff Behaviour under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(392), pages 731-745, September.
    3. Fair, Ray C., 1989. "The production-smoothing model is alive and well," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 353-370, November.
    4. Zabel, Edward, 1972. "Multiperiod monopoly under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 524-536, December.
    5. Louis J. Maccini, 1976. "An Aggregate Dynamic Model of Short-Run Price and Output Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(2), pages 177-196.
    6. Alan S. Blinder, 1986. "Can the Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 431-453.
    7. West, Kenneth D., 1983. "A note on the econometric use of constant dollar inventory series," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 337-341.
    8. Maccini, Louis J & Rossana, Robert J, 1984. "Joint Production, Quasi-Fixed Factors of Production, and Investement in Finished Goods Inventories," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 16(2), pages 218-236, May.
    9. 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 853-864, September.
    10. Irvine, F Owen, Jr, 1981. "Retail Inventory Investment and the Cost of Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 633-648, September.
    11. 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.
    12. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-679, September.
    13. Giuseppe Bertola & Ricardo J. Caballero, 1990. "Kinked Adjustment Costs and Aggregate Dynamics," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 237-296 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing

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