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Constant returns and small markups in U.S. manufacturing

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  • Susanto Basu
  • John G. Fernald

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1994. "Constant returns and small markups in U.S. manufacturing," International Finance Discussion Papers 483, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:483
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 1995. "Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 165-188, August.
    2. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Lyons, Richard K., 1992. "External effects in U.S. procyclical productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 209-225, April.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 921-947, October.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 233-254, May.
    8. Domowitz, Ian & Hubbard, R Glenn & Petersen, Bruce C, 1988. "Market Structure and Cyclical Fluctuations in U.S. Manufacturing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 55-66, February.
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    10. repec:qed:wpaper:894 is not listed on IDEAS
    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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    Keywords

    Productivity; Manufactures;

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