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A Reassessment of Real Business Cycle Theory

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  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

Abstract

During the downturn of 2008?2009, output and hours fell significantly, but labor productivity rose. These facts have led many to conclude that there is a significant deviation between observations and current macrotheories that assume business cycles are driven, at least in part, by fluctuations in total factor productivities of firms. We show that once investment in intangible capital is included in the analysis, there is no inconsistency. Measured labor productivity rises if the fall in output is underestimated; this occurs when there are large unmeasured intangible investments. Microevidence suggests that these investments are large and cyclically important.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2014. "A Reassessment of Real Business Cycle Theory," Staff Report 494, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:494
    Note: Forthcoming in: American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2007. "Business Cycle Accounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(3), pages 781-836, May.
    2. Horvath, Michael, 2000. "Sectoral shocks and aggregate fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 69-106, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laurent Cavenaile & Pau Roldan-Blanco, 2021. "Advertising, Innovation, and Economic Growth," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 251-303, July.
    2. Guido Baldi & Andre Bodmer, 2018. "Intangible Capital Formation, International Equity Investments, and Output Synchronization," Diskussionsschriften dp1810, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    3. Yu Zheng & Raul Santaeulalia & Dongya Koh, 2015. "Labor Share Decline and the Capitalization of Intellectual Property Products," 2015 Meeting Papers 844, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Dongya Koh & Raül Santaeulàlia‐Llopis & Yu Zheng, 2020. "Labor Share Decline and Intellectual Property Products Capital," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(6), pages 2609-2628, November.
    5. Gravina, Antonio Francesco & Foster-McGregor, Neil, 2020. "Automation, globalisation and relative wages: An empirical analysis of winners and losers," MERIT Working Papers 2020-040, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    6. Haakon Kavli and NIcola Viegi, 2015. "Portfolio Flows in a two-country RBC model with financial intermediaries," Working Papers 550, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    7. Christian vom Lehn & Thomas Winberry, 2019. "The Investment Network, Sectoral Comovement, and the Changing U.S. Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 26507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Roth, Felix & Sen, Ali & Rammer, Christian, 2021. "Intangible Capital and Firm-Level Productivity – Evidence from Germany," Hamburg Discussion Papers in International Economics 9, University of Hamburg, Chair of International Economics.
    9. Roldan-Blanco, Pau & Gilbukh, Sonia, 2021. "Firm dynamics and pricing under customer capital accumulation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 99-119.
    10. Baldi, Guido & Bodmer, André, 2017. "Intangible Investments and International Business Cycles," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 211-219.
    11. Andy Atkeson, 2020. "Alternative Facts Regarding the Labor Share," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 37, pages 167-180, August.
    12. Meng, Xianwei & Wei, Xuan, 2016. "A Dynamic Model of Effects of Effects of Trade and Environmental Policies on Firms' Offshoring and Clean Technology Adoption Decisions," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 236064, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. Anderson, James E. & Larch, Mario & Yotov, Yoto V., 2019. "Trade and investment in the global economy: A multi-country dynamic analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    14. Miyagawa, Tsutomu & Tonogi, Konomi & Ishikawa, Takayuki, 2021. "Does the productivity J-curve exist in Japan?-Empirical studies based on the multiple q theory," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    15. Li, Qing & Wu, Yanrui, 2020. "Intangible capital, ICT and sector growth in China," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1).
    16. Dongya Koh & Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis, 2017. "Countercyclical Elasticity of Substitution," Working Papers 946, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    17. Sangmin Aum & Dongya Koh & Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis, 2019. "Increasing and Decreasing Labor Shares: Cross-Country Differences in the XXI Century," Working Papers 1135, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    18. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2014. "Do intangible assets explain high U.S. foreign direct investment returns?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 159-171.
    19. Guido Baldi & André Bodmer, 2020. "Monetary and Macroprudential Policies in an Intangible Economy," Credit and Capital Markets, Credit and Capital Markets, vol. 53(3), pages 325-353.
    20. Pau Roldan & Sophia Gilbukh, 2017. "Firm Dynamics and Pricing under Customer Capital Accumulation," 2017 Meeting Papers 1235, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. Paula Lourdes Hernandez-Verme, 2015. "Credit Chains and Mortgage Crises," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 265-281, May.
    22. Benjamin Caswell, 2021. "Investment Shocks," Working Papers 335109180, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    23. Hansen, G.D. & Ohanian, L.E., 2016. "Neoclassical Models in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 2043-2130, Elsevier.
    24. Sangmin Aum & Dongya Koh & Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis, 2018. "Growth Facts with Intellectual Property Products: An Exploration of 31 OECD New National Accounts," Working Papers 1029, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    25. Gillman, Max, 2021. "Steps in industrial development through human capital deepening," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 99(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business cycles; Productivity; Intangible capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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