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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. 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.
  2. Plosser, C.I., 1989. "Understanding Real Business Cycles," Papers 89-03, Rochester, Business - General.
  3. McGrattan, Ellen R., 1994. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 573-601, June.
  4. S. Rao Aiyagari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "The Output, Employment, and Interest Rate Effects of Government Consumption," NBER Working Papers 3330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  7. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  8. Ben S. Bernanke & Martin L. Parkinson, 1990. "Procyclical Labor Productivity and Competing Theories of the Business Cycle: Some Evidence from Interwar U.S. Manufacturing Industries," NBER Working Papers 3503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1992. "Current Real-Business-Cycle Theories and Aggregate Labor-Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 430-50, June.
  11. Robert J. Hodrick & Edward Prescott, 1981. "Post-War U.S. Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation," Discussion Papers 451, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. 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.
  13. Baxter, Marianne, 1991. "Approximating suboptimal dynamic equilibria : An Euler equation approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 173-200, October.
  14. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 245-73, April.
  15. Robert E. Hall, 1986. "The Role of Consumption in Economic Fluctuations," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 237-266 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Parkin, Michael, 1988. "A method for determining whether parameters in aggregative models are structural," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 215-252, January.
  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. 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.
  19. 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.
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