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Production, Sales and the Change in Inventories: An Identity that Doesn't Add Up

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  • Jeffrey A. Miron
  • Stephen P. Zeldes

Abstract

In this paper we examine two different measures of monthly production that have been used by economists. The first measure, which we refer to as IP, is the index of industrial production constructed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. This measure is used extensively in empirical work on the business cycle, as well as by policymakers and others to assess the current state of the economy. The second measure, which we refer to as Y4, is constructed from the accounting identity that output equals sales plus the change in inventories. Sales and inventory data are reported by the Department of Commerce. This measure of output is frequently used to estimate models of inventory accumulation. Theoretically, these two series measure the same underlying economic variable -- the production of goods by firms during the month. We show here that the time series properties of these two series are radically different. We examine means, variances, and serial correlation coefficients of the log growth rates, and show that these statistics differ substantially between the two series. In addition, the cross-correlations between the two seasonally adjusted series range from .7 to .0 and are in most cases less than .4. We then demonstrate the significance of these differences in two ways. First, we estimate a model of white noise measurement error for the two series. The estimates indicate that in 15 out of 20 2-digit industries measurement error accounts for over 40% of the variation in the monthly growth rates of seasonally adjusted industrial production data. Second, we show that the variance bounds results of Blinder’s (1986) study of inventory behavior are partially reversed when the IF rather than the Y4 output measure is used.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, "undated". "Production, Sales and the Change in Inventories: An Identity that Doesn't Add Up," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 20-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:20-87
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stockman, Alan C., 1988. "Sectoral and national aggregate disturbances to industrial output in seven European countries," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 387-409.
    2. Christopher A. Sims, 1974. "Output and Labor Input in Manufacturing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 5(3), pages 695-736.
    3. Miron, Jeffrey A & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1988. "Seasonality, Cost Shocks, and the Production Smoothing Models of Inventories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 877-908, July.
    4. Alan S. Blinder, 1986. "Can the Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 431-453.
    5. Maccini, Louis J & Rossana, Robert J, 1984. "Joint Production, Quasi-Fixed Factors of Production, and Investement in Finished Goods Inventories," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 16(2), pages 218-236, May.
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    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. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-679, September.
    9. Campbell, John Y. & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1989. "International evidence on the persistence of economic fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 319-333, March.
    10. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
    11. West, Kenneth D, 1986. "A Variance Bounds Test of the Linear Quadratic Inventory Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 374-401, April.
    12. Lichtenberg, Frank R & Griliches, Zvi, 1989. "Errors of Measurement in Output Deflators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-9, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Miron, Jeffrey A & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1988. "Seasonality, Cost Shocks, and the Production Smoothing Models of Inventories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 877-908, July.
    2. JONATHAN McCARTHY & EGON ZAKRAJSEK, 2007. "Inventory Dynamics and Business Cycles: What Has Changed?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 591-613, March.
    3. Eric Dubois, 1991. "Le modèle de lissage de la production par les stocks est-il valide en France ?," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 99(3), pages 95-111.
    4. Beaulieu, J Joseph & Miron, Jeffrey A, 1992. "A Cross Country Comparison of Seasonal Cycles and Business Cycles," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(413), pages 772-788, July.
    5. Scott Schuh, "undated". "Evidence on the Link between Firm-Level and Aggregate Inventory Behavior," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1996-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Ayyagari, Meghana & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2011. "Do Phoenix miracles exist ? firm-level evidence from financial crises," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5799, The World Bank.
    7. Hall, George & Rust, John, 2000. "An empirical model of inventory investment by durable commodity intermediaries," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 171-214, June.
    8. Beaulieu, J. Joseph & Miron, Jeffrey A., 1991. "The seasonal cycle in U.S. manufacturing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 115-118, October.
    9. Eric J. Bartelsman & J. Joseph Beaulieu, 2007. "A Consistent Accounting of U.S. Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 449-482 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 67-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1990. "Business Cycle Properties of Selected U.S. Economic Time Series, 1959-1988," NBER Working Papers 3376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Holly, Sean & Turner, Paul, 2001. "Inventory investment and asymmetric adjustment: Some evidence for the UK," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 251-260, August.

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