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Partial adjustment without apology

  • Robert G. King
  • Julia K. Thomas

Many kinds of economic behavior involve discrete and occasional individual choices. Despite this, econometric partial adjustment models perform relatively well at the aggregate level. Analyzing the classic employment adjustment problem, we show how such microeconomic adjustment is well described by a new form of partial adjustment model that aggregates the actions of heterogeneous producers. ; We develop a model where individual establishments infrequently alter the sizes of their workforces because such adjustments involve fixed costs. In the market equilibrium, employment responses to aggregate disturbances include changes both in target employments selected by individual establishments and in the measure of establishments actively undertaking adjustment. Yet the model retains a partial adjustment flavor in its aggregate responses. Moreover, in contrast to existing discrete adjustment models, our generalized partial adjustment model is sufficiently tractable to allow general equilibrium analysis, and it naturally extends to accommodate persistent differences in productivity across establishments in general equilibrium.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 327.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:327
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  1. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Pfann, Gerard Antonie, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," CEPR Discussion Papers 1371, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1992. "Microeconomic Adjustment Hazards and Aggregate Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 4090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert G. King & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2000. "Resuscitating Real Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael Dotsey & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "State-Dependent Pricing and the General Equilibrium Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 655-690.
  5. Mortensen, Dale T, 1973. "Generalized Costs of Adjustment and Dynamic Factor Demand Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 657-65, July.
  6. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, . "Nonconvex Factor Adjustments in Equilibrium Business Cycle Models: Do Nonlinearities Matter?," GSIA Working Papers 2000-E33, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  7. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1988. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 2572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A & Haltiwanger, John, 1997. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 115-37, March.
  9. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1994. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: A Generalized (S,s) Approach," NBER Working Papers 4887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 1990. "Aggregate employment dynamics and lumpy adjustment costs," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 93-129, January.
  11. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
  12. Julia K. Thomas, 2002. "Is lumpy investment relevant for the business cycle?," Staff Report 302, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-44, December.
  14. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A, 1992. "Beyond the Partial-Adjustment Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 360-64, May.
  15. Kennan, John, 1979. "The Estimation of Partial Adjustment Models with Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(6), pages 1441-55, November.
  16. Kollintzas, Tryphon, 1985. "The Symmetric Linear Rational Expectations Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 963-76, July.
  17. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
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