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Why did the q theory of investment start working?

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  • Andrei, Daniel
  • Mann, William
  • Moyen, Nathalie

Abstract

We show that the relation between aggregate investment and Tobin’s q has become remarkably tight in recent years, contrasting with earlier times. We connect this change with the growing empirical dispersion in Tobin’s q, which we show both in the cross-section and the time series. To study the source of this dispersion, we augment a standard investment model with two distinct mechanisms related to firms’ research activities: innovations and learning. Both innovation jumps in cash flows and the frequent updating of beliefs about future cash flows endogenously amplify volatility in the firm’s value function. Perhaps counterintuitively, the investment-q regression works better for research-intensive industries, a growing segment of the economy, despite their greater stock of intangible assets. We confirm the model’s predictions in the data, and we disentangle the results from measurement error in q.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrei, Daniel & Mann, William & Moyen, Nathalie, 2019. "Why did the q theory of investment start working?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(2), pages 251-272.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:133:y:2019:i:2:p:251-272
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2019.03.007
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    Keywords

    Investment; Tobin’s q; Research and development; Innovation; Learning;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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