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The Response of Prices, Sales, and Output to Temporary Changes in Demand

We determine empirically how the Big Three automakers accommodate shocks to demand. They have the capability to change prices, alter labor inputs through temporary layoffs and overtime, or adjust inventories. These adjustments are interrelated, non-convex, and dynamic in nature. Combining weekly plant-level data on production schedules and output with monthly data on sales and transaction prices, we estimate a dynamic profit-maximization model of the firm. Using impulse response functions, we demonstrate that when an automaker is hit with a demand shock sales respond immediately, prices respond gradually, and production responds only after a delay. The size of the immediate sales response is linear in the size of the shock, but the delayed production response is non-convex in the size of the shock. For sufficiently large shocks the cumulative production response over the product cycle is an order of magnitude larger than the cumulative price response. We examine two recent demand shocks: the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire recall of 2000, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1543.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1543
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Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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  19. Anderson, Patricia M & Meyer, Bruce D, 1993. "Unemployment Insurance in the United States: Layoff Incentives and Cross Subsidies," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S70-95, January.
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  23. Victor Aguirregabiria, 1999. "The Dynamics of Markups and Inventories in Retailing Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 275-308.
  24. Hall, George J., 2000. "Non-convex costs and capital utilization: A study of production scheduling at automobile assembly plants," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 681-716, June.
  25. 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.
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