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Expensed and sweat equity

  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

Expensed investments are expenditures financed by the owners of capital that increase future profits but, by national accounting rules, are treated as an operating expense rather than as a capital expenditure. Sweat investment is financed by worker-owners who allocate time to their business and receive compensation at less than their market rate. Such investments are made with the expectation of realizing capital gains when the business goes public or is sold. But these investments are not included in GDP. Taking into account hours spent building equity while ignoring the output introduces an error in measured productivity and distorts the picture of what is happening in the economy. In this paper, we incorporate expensed and sweat equity in an otherwise standard business cycle model. We use the model to analyze productivity in the United States during the 1990s boom. We find that expensed plus sweat investment was large during this period and critical for understanding the dramatic rise in hours and the modest growth in measured productivity.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 636.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:636
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  1. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2005. "Taxes, regulations, and the value of U.S. and U.K. corporations," Staff Report 309, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Kevin J. Stiroh & Dale W. Jorgenson, 1999. "Information Technology and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 109-115, May.
  3. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
  4. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
  5. Robert Solow, 1994. "Book Reviews," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 167-171.
  6. Ellen R. McGrattan, 2004. "Comment on Gali and Rabanal's "Technology shocks and aggregate fluctuations: how well does the RBC model fit postwar U.S. data?"," Staff Report 338, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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