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Constant returns and small markups in U.S. manufacturing

  • Susanto Basu
  • John G. Fernald

We estimate that returns to scale are close to constant in two-digit gross output data. Value-added data appear instead to give significant increasing returns. We show why, with imperfect competition, value-added estimates are in general meaningless. We use data on intermediate inputs to correct the value-added estimates, and find that returns to scale again appear close to constant. Given that profits are small, our results imply that markups of price over marginal cost are also small.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 483.

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Date of creation: 1994
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:483
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  1. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Market Structure and Cyclical Fluctuations in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 2115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1991. "Markups and the Business Cycle," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1991, Volume 6, pages 63-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Basu, S. & Fernald, J.G., 1993. "Are Apparent Productive Spillovers a Figment of Specification Error," Papers 93-22, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  4. Caballero, R.J. & Lyons, R.K., 1991. "External Effects in U.S. Procyclical Productivity," Papers 91-19, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  5. repec:qed:wpaper:894 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 921-47, October.
  7. Catherine J. Morrison, 1990. "Market Power, Economic Profitability and Productivity Growth Measurement: An Integrated Structural Approach," NBER Working Papers 3355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Devereux, Michael B & Head, Allen C & Lapham, Beverly J, 1996. "Monopolistic Competition, Increasing Returns, and the Effects of Government Spending," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(2), pages 233-54, May.
  9. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
  10. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1993. "Dynamic General Equilibrium Models with Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 4502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Hornstein, Andreas, 1993. "Monopolistic competition, increasing returns to scale, and the importance of productivity shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 299-316, June.
  12. Bruno, Michael, 1978. "Duality, Intermediate Inputs and Value-Added," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 2, chapter 1 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
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