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A theory of growth and volatility at the aggregate and firm level

  • Comin, Diego
  • Mulani, Sunil

We present an endogenous growth model that explains the evolution of the first and second moments of productivity growth at the aggregate and firm level during the post-war period. Growth is driven by the development of both (i) idiosyncratic R&D innovations and (ii) general innovations that can be freely adopted by many firms. Firm-level volatility is affected primarily by the Schumpeterian dynamics associated with the development of R&D innovations. The variance of aggregate productivity growth is driven by the arrival rate of general innovations. Ceteris paribus, the share of resources spent on development of general innovations increases with the stability of the market share of the industry leader. As market shares become less persistent, the model predicts an endogenous shift in the allocation of resources from the development of general innovations to the development of R&D innovations. This results in an increase in R&D, an increase in firm-level volatility, and a decline in aggregate volatility. The effect on productivity growth is ambiguous. On the empirical side, this paper presents new cross-country evidence that R&D subsidies are not significantly associated with higher growth but are associated with lower aggregate volatility. It also documents an upward trend in the instability of market shares, a positive association between firm volatility and R&D spending, and a negative association across sectors between R&D and how correlated the sector is with the rest of the economy.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 56 (2009)
Issue (Month): 8 (November)
Pages: 1023-1042

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:56:y:2009:i:8:p:1023-1042
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  9. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2006. "Volatility and Dispersion in Business Growth Rates: Publicly Traded versus Privately Held Firms," NBER Working Papers 12354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2002. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 9127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  18. Miles Parker, 2006. "Diverging Trends in Aggregate and Firm-Level Volatility in the UK," Discussion Papers 16, Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England.
  19. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 1994. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link Between Volatility and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Peretto, Pietro F., 1996. "Technological Change and Population Growth," Working Papers 96-28, Duke University, Department of Economics.
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  22. Daniel J. Wilson, 2005. "Beggar thy neighbor? the in-state vs. out-of-state impact of state R&D tax credits," Working Paper Series 2005-08, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  23. Diego Comin & Sunil Mulani, 2006. "Diverging Trends in Aggregate and Firm Volatility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 374-383, May.
  24. Thesmar, David & Thoenig, Mathias, 2004. "Financial Market Development and the Rise in Firm Level Uncertainty," CEPR Discussion Papers 4761, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. Diego A. Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2006. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 167-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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