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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. 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. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
  3. Julia K. Thomas, . "Is Lumpy Investment Relevant for the Business Cycle?," GSIA Working Papers 1998-E250, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  4. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1990. "Aggregate Employment Dynamcis and Lumpy Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 3229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Kennan, John, 1979. "The Estimation of Partial Adjustment Models with Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(6), pages 1441-55, November.
  7. King, Robert G. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1999. "Resuscitating real business cycles," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 927-1007 Elsevier.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel & John Haltiwanger, 1995. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building From Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Pfann, Gerard Antonie, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," CEPR Discussion Papers 1371, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Aubhik Khan & Julia Thomas, 2002. "Nonconvex factor adjustments in equilibrium business cycle models: Do nonlinearities matter?," Staff Report 306, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  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. 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.
  13. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1989. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 674-89, September.
  14. Mortensen, Dale T, 1973. "Generalized Costs of Adjustment and Dynamic Factor Demand Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 657-65, July.
  15. 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, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 655-690, May.
  16. Thomas J. Sargent, 1978. "Estimation of dynamic labor demand schedules under rational expectations," Staff Report 27, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Kollintzas, Tryphon, 1985. "The Symmetric Linear Rational Expectations Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 963-76, July.
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