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Mind the (approximation) gap: a robustness analysis

  • Russell Cooper
  • Jonathan L. Willis

This note continues the discussion of the results reported by Ricardo Caballero and Eduardo Engel (1993), hereafter CE, and Ricardo Caballero, Eduardo Engel, and John Haltiwanger (1997), hereafter CEH, by responding to the results reported in Christian Bayer (2008). Russell Cooper and Jonathan Willis (2004), hereafter CW, find that the aggregate nonlinearities reported in CE and CEH may be the consequence of mismeasurement of the employment gap rather than nonlinearities in plant-level adjustment. Bayer reassesses this finding in the context of the CE model in the case where static employment gaps are observed and concludes that the CW result is not robust to alternative shock processes. We concur with Bayer's assessment that the nonlinearity finding is sensitive to the aggregate profitability shock process. We argue, however, that Bayer's finding does not imply that the mismeasurement problem goes away. Instead, the nonlinearity created by mismeasurement is directly related to the level of the aggregate shock. Once the empirical specification properly incorporates the aggregate shock, the nonlinearity test is robust to alternative shock processes and confirms the results in CW. More importantly, we demonstrate that the CW findings are robust to alternative shock processes for the natural case of unobserved gaps as examined by CE and CEH.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its series Research Working Paper with number RWP 09-02.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:rwp09-02
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  1. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A, 1993. "Microeconomic Adjustment Hazards and Aggregate Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 359-83, May.
  2. Russell Cooper & Jonathan L. Willis, 2003. "The economics of labor adjustment: mind the gap," Staff Report 310, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel & John Haltiwanger, 1996. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," Documentos de Trabajo 6, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  4. Jerome Adda & Russell W. Cooper, 2003. "Dynamic Economics: Quantitative Methods and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012014, June.
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