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Impaired Capital Reallocation and Productivity


  • Alina Barnett
  • Ben Broadbent
  • Adrian Chiu
  • Jeremy Franklin
  • Helen Miller


The level of private sector labour productivity has been particularly weak since the start of the crisis. In this paper we explore whether impairment to capital reallocation has been contributing to this weakness. The recent increase in the dispersion of output, prices and rates of return across firms and sectors is stark, and suggests that resources have had incentives to move. Efficient allocation requires that capital moves to firms and sectors where rates of return are relatively high. And the change in capital levels across sectors has been particularly low, suggesting there has been an unusually slow process of capital reallocation since 2008 compared to previous UK recessions and other banking crises. This result is also apparent within sectors. We use a simple and general model to show that increased price dispersion can be a consequence of frictions to efficient capital allocation. And the size of this dispersion can usefully inform us about the size of the associated output and productivity loss. We then find that – using firm level data – the relationship between rates of return and subsequent capital movements has changed since the financial crisis. Overall, our results suggest that impaired capital reallocation across the UK economy is likely to have been one factor contributing to the recent weakness in productivity growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Alina Barnett & Ben Broadbent & Adrian Chiu & Jeremy Franklin & Helen Miller, 2014. "Impaired Capital Reallocation and Productivity," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 228(1), pages 35-48, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:niesru:v:228:y:2014:i:1:p:r35-r48

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    Cited by:

    1. Askenazy, Philippe & Erhel, Christine, 2015. "The French Productivity Puzzle," IZA Discussion Papers 9188, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Millard, Stephen & Nicolae, Anamaria, 2014. "The effect of the financial crisis on TFP growth: a general equilibrium approach," Bank of England working papers 502, Bank of England.
    3. Bryson, Alex & Forth, John, 2015. "The UK's Productivity Puzzle," IZA Discussion Papers 9097, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Piotr Ciżkowicz & Andrzej Rzońca & Andrzej Torój, 2019. "In Search of an Appropriate Lower Bound. The Zero Lower Bound vs. the Positive Lower Bound under Discretion and Commitment," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 20(4), pages 1028-1053, November.
    5. Corrado, Carol & Haskel, Jonathan & Jona-Lasinio, Cecilia, 2019. "Productivity growth, capital reallocation and the financial crisis: Evidence from Europe and the US," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-1.
    6. Barnett, Alina & Batten, Sandra & Chiu, Adrian & Franklin, Jeremy & Sebastia-Barriel, Maria, 2014. "The UK productivity puzzle," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 54(2), pages 114-128.
    7. van den End, Jan Willem & Hoeberichts, Marco, 2018. "Low real rates as driver of secular stagnation: Empirical assessment," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 29-40.
    8. Franklin, Jeremy & Rostom, May & Thwaites, Gregory, 2015. "The banks that said no: banking relationships, credit supply and productivity in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86284, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Sandra Bernick & Richard Davies & Anna Valero, 2017. "Industry in Britain: an atlas," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 513, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. Franklin, Jeremy & Rostom, May & Thwaites, Gregory, 2015. "The banks that said no: banking relationships, credit supply and productivity in the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 557, Bank of England.
    11. Robert Joyce, 2015. "Child poverty in Britain: recent trends and future prospects," IFS Working Papers W15/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    12. Ana Rincon-Aznar & Rebecca Riley & Garry Young, 2017. "Academic Review of Asset Lives in the UK," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 474, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    13. Paul De Grauwe & Eddie Gerba, 2015. "Stock Market Cycles and Supply Side Dynamics: Two Worlds, One Vision?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5573, CESifo.
    14. Paul De Grauwe & Eddie Gerba, 2015. "Stock Market Cycles and Supply Side Dynamics: Two Worlds, One Vision?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5573, CESifo.
    15. Latsos, Sophia, 2018. "Real wage effects of Japan's monetary policy," Working Papers 153, University of Leipzig, Faculty of Economics and Management Science.
    16. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat & Phurichai Rungcharoenkitkul, 2018. "What anchors for the natural rate of interest?," PIER Discussion Papers 98, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Nov 2018.
    17. Fabiano Schivardi & Enrico Sette & Guido Tabellini, 2017. "Credit Misallocation During the European Financial Crisis," CESifo Working Paper Series 6406, CESifo.

    More about this item


    capital allocation; productivity; financial crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence


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