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An Uncertainty-Driven Theory of the Productivity Slowdown: Manufacturing

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  • Comin, D.

Abstract

This paper presents a theory of the productivity slowdown based on the effects that uncertainty has on the productivity of specialized capital. Uncertainty reduces the efficiency of inflexible capital and generates a slowdown. It also increases the demand for flexible capital which retains its productivity in the new volatile environment. The increase in the share of flexible capital explains the acceleration of the rate of productivity growth embodied in new capital observed by McHugh and Lane [1987]. This fact is difficult to explain by the theories that emphasize the cost of implementing the new technologies as the cause of the slowdown. The model also highlights the positive effect that uncertainty has on the speed of diffusion of technologies, and on the rate of technological progress. These relationships are successfully tested in manufacturing and are used to explain the rapid diffusion of computers and the spectacular TFP growth rate of the computer producing sectors.

Suggested Citation

  • Comin, D., 2000. "An Uncertainty-Driven Theory of the Productivity Slowdown: Manufacturing," Working Papers 00-16, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:00-16
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    File URL: http://econ.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/9188/RR00-16.PDF
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Samaniego, Roberto M., 2008. "Can technical change exacerbate the effects of labor market sclerosis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 497-528, February.
    2. James Bessen, 2002. "Technology Adoption Costs and Productivity Growth: The Transition to Information Technology," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 443-469, April.
    3. Oikawa, Koki, 2010. "Uncertainty-driven growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 897-912, May.
    4. Cascaldi-Garcia, Danilo & Galvao, Ana Beatriz, 2016. "News and Uncertainty Shocks," EMF Research Papers 12, Economic Modelling and Forecasting Group.
    5. Danilo Cascaldi-Garcia, 2017. "Amplification effects of news shocks through uncertainty," 2017 Papers pca1251, Job Market Papers.
    6. Oikawa, Koki, 2008. "Acceleration effect of uncertainty on technological diffusion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 234-236, December.
    7. Philippe Aghion, 2002. "Schumpeterian Growth Theory and the Dynamics of Income Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 855-882, May.
    8. Pengfei Wang & Yi Wen, 2009. "Financial development and economic volatility: a unified explanation," Working Papers 2009-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    9. Beck, Mathias & Junge, Martin & Kaiser, Ulrich, 2017. "Public Funding and Corporate Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 11196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Diego Comin, 2002. "Comments on James Bessen's "Technology Adoption Costs and Productivity Growth: The 70's as a Technology Transition"," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 470-476, April.
    11. Pengfei Wang & Yi Wen & Zhiwei Xu, . "Financial Development and Long-Run Volatility Trends"," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Boyan Jovanovic, 2006. "Asymmetric Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 145-162.
    13. Pengfei Wang & Yi Wen & Zhiwei Xu, . "Financial Development and Long-Run Volatility Trends"," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Diego Comin & Bart Hobijn, 2007. "Implementing Technology," NBER Working Papers 12886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Hyunbae Chun & Jung-Wook Kim & Randall Morck, 2011. "Varying Heterogeneity among U.S. Firms: Facts and Implications," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 1034-1052, August.
    16. Shalini Mitra, 2012. "Does Financial Development Cause Higher Firm Volatility and Lower Aggregate Volatility?," Working papers 2012-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    PRODUCTIVITY SLOWDOWN; UNCERTAINTY; SPECIALIZED CAPITAL; FLEXIBILITY;

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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