Gestation lags and the relationship between investment and Q in regressions
Regressions of investment on Tobin's Q are misspecified in the presence of capital gestation lags because they don't distinguish between the value of existing capital and the value of capital at a future date. Current investment should be determined by the anticipated shadow value of capital at the gestation horizon. Under homogeneity conditions analogous to Hayashi, this value is equal to the forecast of an adjusted version of Q. This misspecification helps to explain many pathologies in the literature: attenuated estimates of the coefficient on Q, low R2, and serially-correlated errors. Regressions using aggregate data suggest that (1) endogeneity problems associated with the standard regression of investment on Q can be eliminated by reversing the regression, (2) forecastable changes in Q provide additional information about investment not captured in current Q, and (3) specifications that explicitly account for gestation lags yield capital adjustment costs of a more reasonable magnitude.
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