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Modeling inventories over the business cycle

  • Aubhik Khan
  • Julia K. Thomas

We evaluate two leading models of aggregate fluctuations with inventories in general equilibrium: the (S,s) model and the stockout avoidance model. Each is judged by its ability to explain the observed magnitude of inventories in the U.S. economy, alongside other empirical regularities such as the procyclicality of inventory investment and its positive correlation with sales. We find that the (S,s) model is far more consistent with the behavior of aggregate inventories in the postwar U.S. when aggregate fluctuations arise from technology, rather than preference, shocks. The converse holds for the stockout avoidance model. The (S,s) model performs well with respect to the inventory facts and other business cycle regularities. By contrast, the essential risk motive in the stockout avoidance model is insufficient to generate inventory holdings near the data without destroying the model's performance elsewhere, suggesting a fundamental problem in using reduced-form inventory models with stocks rationalized by this motive.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 343.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:343
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  1. Aubhik Khan & Julia Thomas, 2003. "Inventories and the Business Cycle: An Equilibrium Analysis of (S,s) Policies," NBER Working Papers 10078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Christiano, Lawrence J., 1988. "Why does inventory investment fluctuate so much?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 247-280.
  4. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
  5. Mark Bils & James A. Kahn, 1999. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us About Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Eichenbaum, Martin S., 1984. "Rational expectations and the smoothing properties of inventories of finished goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 71-96, July.
  8. 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.
  9. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  10. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
  11. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  12. Robert G. King & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2000. "Resuscitating Real Business Cycles," RCER Working Papers 467, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  13. 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.
  14. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 1996. "(S, s) inventory policies in general equilibrium," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. Alan S. Blinder, 1980. "Inventories and the Structure of Macro Models," NBER Working Papers 0515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  18. Valerie A. Ramey & Daniel J. Vine, 2004. "Why Do Real and Nominal Inventory-Sales Ratios Have Different Trends," NBER Working Papers 10703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. James A. Kahn & Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez-Quiros, 2002. "On the causes of the increased stability of the U.S. economy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 183-202.
  20. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  21. Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2003. "Microeconomic Inventory Behavior and Aggregate Inventory Dynamics," GSIA Working Papers 2003-E28, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  22. Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 250, David K. Levine.
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