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Learning by investing--embodied technology and business cycles

  • Geng Li
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In the last decade of the 20th century, the U.S. economy witnessed a persistent and substantial increase in private investment. The boom was sharply reversed in 2001, and a great deal of evidence suggests that the capital stock had become excessive. Standard equilibrium business cycle models have difficulties in predicting the investment boom and overshooting. An embodied technology model is constructed to replicate the pattern of investment boom and collapse. Unlike previous models of embodiment, the present model assumes that new technology increases the productivity of capital of all vintages, but only new capital can facilitate the adoption of the new technology. Further, although agents in this model know about the advent of a new technology, they have imperfect information about its magnitude. Agents learn the magnitude by investing in new capital. I present a sufficient condition for having a persistent investment boom and overshooting. I also solve the model numerically in a dynamic general equilibrium (DGE) setup. The model presented in this paper extends the standard DGE business cycle models in two ways: First, it presents a strong internal propagation mechanism with respect to technology shocks; second, it generates endogenous recessions without invoking technological regress. The model also offers a possible explanation on why consumption growth was strong during the last recession.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2007-15.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2007-15
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  1. Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn & Veldkamp, Laura, 2006. "Learning asymmetries in real business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 753-772, May.
  2. Philippe Aghion, Patrick Bolton and Bruno Jullien., 1987. "Learning Through Price Experimentation by a Monopolist Facing Unknown Demand," Economics Working Papers 8748, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Aghion, P. & Bolton, P. & Harris, C. & Jullien, B., 1990. "Optimal Learning By Experimentation," DELTA Working Papers 90-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  4. Robert E. Hall, 1999. "The Stock Market and Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 7180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2006. "Can News About the Future Drive the Business Cycle?," 2006 Meeting Papers 31, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rousseau, Peter L., 2005. "General Purpose Technologies," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 18, pages 1181-1224 Elsevier.
  8. Bart Hobijn & Boyan Jovanovic, 2000. "The Information Technology Revolution and the Stock Market: Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 67-140.
  10. Alessandro Barbarino & Boyan Jovanovic, 2007. "Shakeouts And Market Crashes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 48(2), pages 385-420, 05.
  11. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Miles S. Kimball, 2004. "Are technology improvements contractionary?," Working Paper Series WP-04-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  12. Beaudry, Paul & Portier, Franck, 2001. "An Exploration into Pigou's Theory of Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 2996, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. John Laitner & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2003. "Technological Change and the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1240-1267, September.
  14. Patrick Bolton & Christopher Harris, 1999. "Strategic Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 349-374, March.
  15. Hercowitz, Zvi, 1998. "The 'embodiment' controversy: A review essay," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 217-224, February.
  16. Rafael Rob, 1991. "Learning and Capacity Expansion under Demand Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(4), pages 655-675.
  17. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 513-542.
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