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Autos and the National Industrial Recovery Act: Evidence on Industry Complementarities

  • Russell Cooper

    ()

  • John Haltiwanger

This paper investigates the motivations for, and implications of, the Automobile Industry code under the National Industrial Recovery Act. The amended code contained a provision calling for automobile producers to alter the timing of new model introductions and the annual automobile show as a means of regularizing employment in the industry. After documenting key features of the automobile industry during the 1920s and 1930s and outlining the provisions of the automobile code, we analyze two models of the annual automobile cycle to explain the observations. In one model, the NIRA code simply codified a change in industry behavior that would have taken place anyway due to a change in fundamentals in the economy during the early 1930s. The competing model introduces a coordination problem into the determination of the equilibrium timing of new model introductions. Our analysis of this period provides evidence against the hypothesis that changes in fundamentals led to the dramatic changes in the seasonal pattern of production and sales starting in 1935. Instead, it appears that the National Industrial Recovery Act succeeded in coordinating activity on an alternative equilibrium.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Industry Studies Programme in its series Papers with number 0028.

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Date of creation: May 1992
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:bostin:0028
Contact details of provider: Postal: Boston University, Industry Studies Program; Department of Economics, 270 Bay Road, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.
Phone: 617-353-4389
Fax: 617-353-4449
Web page: http://www.bu.edu/econ/isp/
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  1. Mankiw, N Gregory & Miron, Jeffrey A & Weil, David N, 1987. "The Adjustment of Expectations to a Change in Regime: A Study of the Founding of the Federal Reserve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 358-74, June.
  2. Howitt, Peter, 1985. "Transaction Costs in the Theory of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 88-100, March.
  3. Cooper, Russell W. & Haltiwanger, John Jr., 1992. "Macroeconomic implications of production bunching : Factor demand linkages," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 107-127, October.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Martin L. Parkinson, 1990. "Procyclical Labor Productivity and Competing Theories of the Business Cycle: Some Evidence from Interwar U.S. Manufacturing Industries," NBER Working Papers 3503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert B. Barsky & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1988. "The Seasonal Cycle and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 2688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Andrews, Donald W K, 1993. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 821-56, July.
  7. John Huizinga & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1985. "Monetary Policy Regime Shifts and the Unusual Behavior of Real Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 1678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
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