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Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level

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  • Timothy F. Bresnahan
  • Valerie A. Ramey

Abstract

This paper examines the short-run dynamics of manufacturing costs by detailing how plants in the U. S. automobile industry change output. Weekly data show a variety of margins on which firms adjust production. These margins, which are distinct from the usual factor demand choices, differ in their lumpiness, their adjustment costs, and their variable costs. The existence of these margins explains several empirical puzzles of output fluctuations. Using a theory of the short-run dynamic cost function, we are able to infer some of the characteristics of the underlying cost function from the dynamic behavior of the different margins.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy F. Bresnahan & Valerie A. Ramey, 1994. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 593-624.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:593-624.
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    1. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Comparing Productivity Growth: An Exploration of French and U.S. Industrial and Firm Data," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 157-186 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1989. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 674-689, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Cooper, Russell & Haltiwanger, John, 1993. "The Aggregate Implications of Machine Replacement: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 360-382, June.
    5. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1990. "Gross Job Creation and Destruction: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 123-186 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1981. "Departures from marginal-cost pricing in the American automobile industry : Estimates for 1977-1978," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 201-227, November.
    7. Alan S. Blinder, 1981. "Retail Inventory Behavior and Business Fluctuations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 443-520.
    8. Aizcorbe, Ana M, 1992. "Procyclical Labour Productivity, Increasing Returns to Labour and Labour Hoarding in Car Assembly Plant Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(413), pages 860-873, July.
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