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

Listed author(s):
  • Aubhik Khan
  • Julia K. Thomas

The authors develop an equilibrium business cycle model in which final goods producers pursue generalized (S,s) inventory policies with respect to intermediate goods, a consequence of nonconvex factor adjustment costs. Calibrating their model to reproduce the average inventory-to-sales ratio in postwar U.S. data, the authors find that it explains 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. However, the authors' model economy exhibits a business cycle similar to that of a comparable benchmark without inventories.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 02-20.

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Date of creation: 2002
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:02-20
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 250, David K. Levine.
  4. Christiano, Lawrence J., 1988. "Why does inventory investment fluctuate so much?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 247-280.
  5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
  6. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1996. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: A Generalized (S,s) Approach," Documentos de Trabajo 12, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  7. Robert G. King & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2000. "Resuscitating Real Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-679, September.
  9. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 1998. "(S,s) Inventory policies in general equilibrium," Working Paper 97-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  10. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, "undated". "Nonconvex Factor Adjustments in Equilibrium Business Cycle Models: Do Nonlinearities Matter?," GSIA Working Papers 2000-E33, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  11. 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.).
  12. George J. Hall & John Rust, 1999. "An Empirical Model of Inventory Investment by Durable Commodity Intermediaries," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1228, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  13. Mark Bils & James A. Kahn, 1999. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us About Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Brad R. Humphreys & Louis J. Maccini & Scott Schuh, 1997. "Input and output inventories," Working Papers 97-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  15. Ramey, Valerie A, 1991. "Nonconvex Costs and the Behavior of Inventories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 306-334, April.
  16. 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.
  17. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A, 1991. "Dynamic (S, s) Economies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1659-1686, November.
  18. Terry J. Fitzgerald, 1997. "Inventories and the business cycle: an overview," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q III, pages 11-22.
  19. 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.
  20. Eichenbaum, Martin, 1989. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 853-864, September.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.).
  23. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
  24. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  25. 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.
  26. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
  27. Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2003. "Microeconomic Inventory Behavior and Aggregate Inventory Dynamics," GSIA Working Papers 2003-E28, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  28. repec:cup:macdyn:v:1:y:1997:i:2:p:387-422 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Ramey, Valerie A, 1989. "Inventories as Factors of Production and Economic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 338-354, June.
  31. 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.
  32. Andreas Hornstein, 1998. "Inventory investment and the business cycle," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 49-71.
  33. Patricia C. Mosser, 1991. "Trade Inventories and (S,s)," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1267-1286.
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