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Inventories and the business cycle: an equilibrium analysis of (S,s) policies

  • Aubhik Khan
  • Julie K. Thomas

We develop an equilibrium business cycle model where producers of final goods pursue generalized (S,s) inventory policies with respect to intermediate goods due to nonconvex factor adjustment costs. When calibrated to reproduce the average inventory-to-sales ratio in postwar U.S. data, our model explains over half of the cyclical variability of inventory investment. Moreover, inventory accumulation is strongly procyclical, and production is more volatile than sales, as in the data. ; The comovement between inventory investment and final sales is often interpreted as evidence that inventories amplify aggregate fluctuations. In contrast, our model economy exhibits a business cycle similar to that of a comparable benchmark without inventories, though we do observe somewhat higher variability in employment, and lower variability in consumption and investment. Thus, our equilibrium analysis reveals that the presence of inventories does not substantially raise the cyclical variability of production, because it dampens movements in final sales.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 329.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:329
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  1. Jonathan McCarthy & Egon Zakrajsek, 2000. "Microeconomic inventory adjustment: evidence from U.S. firm-level data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Valerie A. Ramey & Daniel J. Vine, 2004. "Tracking the Source of the Decline in GDP Volatility: An Analysis of the Automobile Industry," NBER Working Papers 10384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Krusell, Per & Smith, Anthony A., 1997. "Income And Wealth Heterogeneity, Portfolio Choice, And Equilibrium Asset Returns," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 387-422, June.
  4. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
  5. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
  6. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
  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. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 1998. "(S,s) Inventory policies in general equilibrium," Working Paper 97-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  9. Hall, George & Rust, John, 2000. "An empirical model of inventory investment by durable commodity intermediaries," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 171-214, June.
  10. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," GSIA Working Papers 1997-37, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  11. Bils, M. & Kahn, J.A., 1996. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us About Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 428, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  12. Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2003. "Microeconomic Inventory Behavior and Aggregate Inventory Dynamics," GSIA Working Papers 2003-E28, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  13. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1991. "Dynamic (S,s) Economies," NBER Working Papers 3734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Robert G. King & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2000. "Resuscitating Real Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the business cycle changed?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 9-56.
  16. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel, 1999. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: A Generalized (S,s) Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 783-826, July.
  17. Brad R. Humphreys & Louis J. Maccini & Scott Schuh, 1997. "Input and output inventories," Working Papers 97-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  18. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Valerie A. Ramey & Kenneth D. West, 1997. "Inventories," NBER Working Papers 6315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Ramey, Valerie A. & West, Kenneth D., 1999. "Inventories," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 863-923 Elsevier.
  20. Christiano, Lawrence J., 1988. "Why does inventory investment fluctuate so much?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 247-280.
  21. 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.
  22. Alan S. Blinder, 1981. "Retail Inventory Behavior and Business Fluctuations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 443-520.
  23. Mosser, Patricia C, 1991. "Trade Inventories and (S, s)," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1267-86, November.
  24. Alan S. Blinder & Louis J. Maccini, 1991. "Taking Stock: A Critical Assessment of Recent Research on Inventories," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 73-96, Winter.
  25. Terry J. Fitzgerald, 1997. "Inventories and the business cycle: an overview," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q III, pages 11-22.
  26. Martin S. Eichenbaum, 1988. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," NBER Working Papers 2523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  28. Ramey, Valerie A, 1991. "Nonconvex Costs and the Behavior of Inventories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 306-34, April.
  29. Andreas Hornstein, 1998. "Inventory investment and the business cycle," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 49-71.
  30. Scott Schuh, 1996. "Evidence on the link between firm-level and aggregate inventory behavior," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  31. repec:cup:macdyn:v:1:y:1997:i:2:p:387-422 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
  33. Ramey, Valerie A, 1989. "Inventories as Factors of Production and Economic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 338-54, June.
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