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Productive externalities and business cycles

  • Marianne Baxter
  • Robert G. King

This paper begins with the observation that the volatility of factor input growth is insufficient to explain the volatility in the growth rate of output, and explores the empirical plausibility of the hypothesis that this fact is due to the presence of productive externalities and increasing returns to scale. We construct a quantitative equilibrium macroeconomic model which incorporates these features, and allows for demand shocks operating at the level of the consumer. We employ the method of Hall (1986) and Parkin (1988) to measure these demand shocks, and use these measured disturbances to conduct stochastic simulations of the model. We find that the model with increasing returns, when driven by measured demand shocks, generates time series which replicate the basic stylized facts of U.S. business cycles, although with lower amplitude. However, in the absence of increasing returns the measured demand shocks do not produce a characteristic business cycle response. When preference shocks are combined with productivity shocks, we find that both the increasing returns and the constant returns models correctly predict a weak correlation between hours and wages, while the predictions of the increasing returns model provide the better overall match with the data.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics with number 53.

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Date of creation: 1991
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmem:53
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  1. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  2. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Building Blocks of Market Clearing Business Cycle Models," NBER Working Papers 3004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Baxter, Marianne, 1991. "Approximating suboptimal dynamic equilibria : An Euler equation approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 173-200, October.
  4. S. Rao Aiyagari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "The output, employment, and interest rate effects of government consumption," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 25, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 24, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Parkin, M., 1988. "A Method For Determining Whether Parameters In Aggregative Models Are Structural," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 8803, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  7. Robert E. Hall, 1986. "The Role of Consumption in Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 1391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Richard K. Lyons, 1989. "The Role of External Economies in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 3033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Plosser, Charles I, 1989. "Understanding Real Business Cycles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 51-77, Summer.
  10. Matthew D. Shapiro & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "Sources of Business Cycle Fluctuations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 870, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Bencivenga, Valerie R, 1992. "An Econometric Study of Hours and Output Variation with Preference Shocks," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(2), pages 449-71, May.
  12. Mankiw, N Gregory & Rotemberg, Julio J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 225-51, February.
  13. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : I. The basic neoclassical model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 195-232.
  14. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1990. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 3556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ellen R. McGrattan, 1991. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 37, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Hodrick, Robert J & Prescott, Edward C, 1997. "Postwar U.S. Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 1-16, February.
  17. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
  18. Bernanke, Ben S & Parkinson, Martin L, 1991. "Procyclical Labor Productivity and Competing Theories of the Business Cycle: Some Evidence from Interwar U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 439-59, June.
  19. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
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