IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks

  • Nicholas Bloom

Uncertainty appears to jump up after major shocks like the Cuban Missile crisis, the assassination of JFK, the OPEC I oil-price shock, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This paper offers a structural framework to analyze the impact of these uncertainty shocks. I build a model with a time-varying second moment, which is numerically solved and estimated using firm-level data. The parameterized model is then used to simulate a macro uncertainty shock, which produces a rapid drop and rebound in aggregate output and employment. This occurs because higher uncertainty causes firms to temporarily pause their investment and hiring. Productivity growth also falls because this pause in activity freezes reallocation across units. In the medium term the increased volatility from the shock induces an overshoot in output, employment, and productivity. Thus, uncertainty shocks generate short sharp recessions and recoveries. This simulated impact of an uncertainty shock is compared to vector autoregression estimations on actual data, showing a good match in both magnitude and timing. The paper also jointly estimates labor and capital adjustment costs (both convex and nonconvex). Ignoring capital adjustment costs is shown to lead to substantial bias, while ignoring labor adjustment costs does not. Copyright 2009 The Econometric Society.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 77 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (05)
Pages: 623-685

in new window

Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:77:y:2009:i:3:p:623-685
Contact details of provider: Phone: 1 212 998 3820
Fax: 1 212 995 4487
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
  2. Nick Bloom, 2006. "The impact of uncertainty shocks: firm level estimation and a 9/11 simulation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19867, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Neil Shephard & Ole Barndorff-Nielsen, 2003. "Econometrics of testing for jumps in financial economics using bipower variation," Economics Series Working Papers 2004-FE-01, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1988. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 2572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gadi Barlevy, 2004. "The Cost of Business Cycles Under Endogenous Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 964-990, September.
  6. Fumio Hayashi, 1981. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average a : A Neoclassical Interpretation," Discussion Papers 457, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Ramey, Garey & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link between Volatility and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1138-51, December.
  8. Leahy, John V & Whited, Toni M, 1996. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Investment: Some Stylized Facts," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(1), pages 64-83, February.
  9. Ruediger Bachmann & Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel, 2006. "Lumpy Investment in Dynamic General Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1566, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, 2000. "Nonconvex factor adjustments in equilibrium business cycle models: do nonlinearities matter?," Working Papers 00-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  11. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2006. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 611-633.
  12. Cooper, Russell & Haltiwanger, John & Willis, Jonathan L., 2015. "Dynamics of labor demand: Evidence from plant-level observations and aggregate implications," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 37-50.
  13. Robert G. King & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2000. "Resuscitating Real Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2004. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 1-32, 01.
  15. Russell Cooper & John Haltiwanger, 1990. "The Aggregate Implications of Machine Replacement: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  17. Merz, Monika & Yashiv, Eran, 2004. "Labour and the Market Value of the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 4184, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Bernard, Andrew B. & Redding, Stephen J. & Schott, Peter K., 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Product Switching," CEPR Discussion Papers 5708, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," NBER Working Papers 12216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1996. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: A Generalized (S,s) Approach," Documentos de Trabajo 12, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  21. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel & John Haltiwanger, 1996. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," Documentos de Trabajo 6, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  22. Nicholas Bloom & Max Floetotto & Nir Jaimovich & Itay Saporta-Eksten & Stephen Terry, 2013. "Really Uncertain Business Cycles," CEP Discussion Papers dp1195, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  23. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Ricardo J. Caballero & John V. Leahy, 1996. "Fixed Costs: The Demise of Marginal q," NBER Working Papers 5508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Adda, Jérôme & Cooper, Russell W., 1997. "Balladurette and jupette: a discrete analysis of scrapping subsidies," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9711, CEPREMAP.
  26. repec:oup:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:4:p:1351-1408 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John Haltiwanger, 2006. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources and Micro-Macro Links," NBER Working Papers 12167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. John Van Reenen & Nick Bloom & Steve Bond, 2006. "Uncertainty and investment dynamics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2645, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  29. repec:oup:restud:v:61:y:1994:i:2:p:223-46 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Krusell, P & Smith Jr, A-A, 1995. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomic," RCER Working Papers 399, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  31. Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1998. "Displaced Capital," NBER Working Papers 6775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly, 1995. "Optimal Investment with Costly Reversibility," NBER Working Papers 5091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. R?diger Bachmann & Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel, 2013. "Aggregate Implications of Lumpy Investment: New Evidence and a DSGE Model," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 29-67, October.
  34. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "On the Sign of the Investment-Uncertainty Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 279-88, March.
  35. Philippe Aghion & George-Marios Angeletos & Abhijit Banerjee & Kalina Manova, 2005. "Volatility and Growth: Credit Constraints and Productivity-Enhancing Investment," NBER Working Papers 11349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. repec:oup:restud:v:57:y:1990:i:3:p:381-402 is not listed on IDEAS
  37. Hassler, John A. A., 1996. "Variations in risk and fluctuations in demand: A theoretical model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1115-1143.
  38. Lee, Bong-Soo & Ingram, Beth Fisher, 1991. "Simulation estimation of time-series models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 197-205, February.
  39. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-33, March.
  40. repec:oup:qjecon:v:98:y:1983:i:1:p:85-106 is not listed on IDEAS
  41. Bond, Stephen & Van Reenen, John, 2007. "Microeconometric Models of Investment and Employment," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 65 Elsevier.
  42. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Plant-Level Adjustment and Aggregate Investment Dynamics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 1-54.
  43. repec:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:2:p:359-83 is not listed on IDEAS
  44. Hartman, Richard, 1972. "The effects of price and cost uncertainty on investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 258-266, October.
  45. repec:oup:restud:v:63:y:1996:i:4:p:581-93 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:77:y:2009:i:3:p:623-685. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.