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Uncertainty and Investment Dynamics

  • Nick Bloom
  • Stephen Bond
  • John Van Reenen

This paper shows that, with (partial) irreversibility, higher uncertainty reduces the impact effect of demand shocks on investment. Uncertainty increases real option values making firms more cautious when investing or disinvesting. This is confirmed both numerically for a model with a rich mix of adjustment costs, time-varying uncertainty, and aggregation over investment decisions and time, and also empirically for a panel of manufacturing firms. These cautionary effects of uncertainty are large - going from the lower quartile to the upper quartile of the uncertainty distribution typically halves the first year investment response to demand shocks. This implies the responsiveness of firms to any given policy stimulus may be much lower in periods of high uncertainty, such as after major shocks like OPEC I and 9/11.

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File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp0739.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0739.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0739
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Bronwyn H. Hall & Jacques Mairesse & Benoit Mulkay & Jacques Mairesse, 1999. "Firm Level Investment in France and the United States: An Exploration of What We Have Learned in Twenty Years," Econometrics 9902001, EconWPA.
  2. Stephen Bond & Dietmar Harhoff & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Investment, R&D and Financial Constraints in Britain and Germany," NBER Chapters, in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 433-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andrew B. Abel & Janice B. Eberly, . "The Effects of Irreversibility and Uncertainty on Capital Accumulation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 21-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  4. Blundell, R. & Bond, S., 1995. "Initial Conditions and Moment Restrictions in Dynamic Panel Data Models," Economics Papers 104, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  5. Joanne M. Doyle & Toni M. Whited, 2001. "Fixed Costs Of Adjustment, Coordination, And Industry Investment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 628-637, November.
  6. Mark Doms & Timothy Dunne, 1994. "Capital Adjustment Patterns in Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 94-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Marcelo L. Veracierto, 2002. "Plant-Level Irreversible Investment and Equilibrium Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 181-197, March.
  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. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  10. Abel, Andrew B & Eberly, Janice C, 1996. "Optimal Investment with Costly Reversibility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 581-93, October.
  11. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hartman, Richard, 1972. "The effects of price and cost uncertainty on investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 258-266, October.
  13. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly, . "A Unified Model of Investment Under Uncertainty," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 14-93, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  14. Caballero, R.J., 1994. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: Generalized (S,s) Approach," Working papers 94-32, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  15. Bloom, Nicholas & Bond, Stephen Roy & Van Reenen, John, 2003. "Uncertainty and Company Investment Dynamics: Empirical Evidence for UK Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Guiso, L. & Parigi, G., 1996. "Investment and Demand Uncertainty," Papers 289, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  17. Engle, Robert F & Granger, Clive W J, 1987. "Co-integration and Error Correction: Representation, Estimation, and Testing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 251-76, March.
  18. Ricardo J. Caballero & John V. Leahy, 1996. "Fixed Costs: The Demise of Marginal q," NBER Working Papers 5508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 2003. "Financial Frictions and Investment: Requiem in Q," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 710-728, October.
  21. Timothy Erickson & Toni M. Whited, 2000. "Measurement Error and the Relationship between Investment and q," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1027-1057, October.
  22. M Arellano & O Bover, 1990. "Another Look at the Instrumental Variable Estimation of Error-Components Models," CEP Discussion Papers dp0007, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  23. Diego Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2005. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 11388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Eberly, Janice C. & Van Mieghem, Jan A., 1997. "Multi-factor Dynamic Investment under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 345-387, August.
  25. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-33, March.
  26. Oivind Anti Nilsen & Fabio Schiantarelli, 1996. "Zeroes and Lumps in Investment: Empirical Evidence on Irreversibilities and Non-Convexities," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 337., Boston College Department of Economics, revised 01 Nov 2000.
  27. 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.
  28. Vlieghe, Gertjan & Stephen Bond & Alexander Klemm & Rain Newton-Smith & Murtaza Syed, 2003. "The roles of expected profitability, Tobin's Q and cash flow in econometric models of company investment," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 212, Royal Economic Society.
  29. John Y. Campbell & Martin Lettau & Burton G. Malkiel & Yexiao Xu, 2000. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," NBER Working Papers 7590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Bertola, Guiseppe & Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Irreversibility and Aggregate Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 223-46, April.
  31. 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.
  32. Nicholas Bloom, 2000. "The dynamic effects of real options and irreversibility on investment and labour demand," IFS Working Papers W00/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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