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Adjustment Is Much Slower Than You Think

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Eduardo M.R.A. Engel

    (Dept. of Economics, Yale University)

Abstract

In most instances, the dynamic response of monetary and other policies to shocks is infrequent and lumpy. The same holds for the microeconomic response of some of the most important economic variables, such as investment, labor demand, and prices. We show that the standard practice of estimating the speed of adjustment of such variables with partial-adjustment ARMA procedures substantially overestimates this speed. For example, for the target federal funds rate, we find that the actual response to shocks is less than half as fast as the estimated response. For investment, labor demand and prices, the speed of adjustment inferred from aggregates of a small number of agents is likely to be close to instantaneous. While aggregating across microeconomic units reduces the bias (the limit of which is illustrated by Rotemberg's widely used linear aggregate characterization of Calvo's model of sticky prices), in some instances convergence is extremely slow. For example, even after aggregating investment across all establishments in U.S. manufacturing, the estimate of its speed of adjustment to shocks is biased upward by more than 80 percent. While the bias is not as extreme for labor demand and prices, it still remains significant at high levels of aggregation. Because the bias rises with disaggregation, findings of microeconomic adjustment that is substantially faster than aggregate adjustment are generally suspect.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 2003. "Adjustment Is Much Slower Than You Think," Working Papers 865, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:865
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Todd E. Clark, 2006. "Disaggregate evidence on the persistence of consumer price inflation," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(5), pages 563-587.
    8. Addison, John T. & Portugal, Pedro & Varejão, José, 2014. "Labor demand research: Toward a better match between better theory and better data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 4-11.
    9. Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2004. "Markups, Aggregation, and Inventory Adjustment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1328-1353, December.
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    11. Todd E. Clark, 2006. "Disaggregate evidence on the persistence of consumer price inflation," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(5), pages 563-587, July.
    12. Calmès, Christian & Théoret, Raymond, 2010. "The impact of off-balance-sheet activities on banks returns: An application of the ARCH-M to Canadian data," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1719-1728, July.
    13. Christian Calmès & Raymond Théoret, 2009. "The Impact of Banking Deregulation on Canadian Banks Returns," RePAd Working Paper Series UQO-DSA-wp022009, Département des sciences administratives, UQO.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Speed of adjustment; discrete adjustment; lumpy adjustment; aggregation; Calvo model; ARMA process; partial adjustment; expected response time; monetary policy; investment; labor demand; sticky prices; idiosyncratic shocks; impulse response function; Wold representation; time-to-build;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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