IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Macroeconomic Profitability: Theory and Evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas R. Michl

This paper gives an account of recent work on the measurement, statistical analysis, and theoretical analysis of macroeconomic profitability. Measurement issues include the treatment of holding gains on physical assets and net financial liabilities, national income accounting practices and recent revisions, and the use of accounting rates of return. Statistical work has focused on the identification of trends and shifts in profit rates not caused by cyclical fluctuations, and various theoretical explanations have been offered for the generally low rates of return that appeared in the 1970s. These include capital deepening stimulated by a reduction in the cost of capital funds; profit squeezes caused by some combination of slower productivity growth, real wage push, and raw material price inflation; declining capital productivity; and changes in effective tax rates. The paper raises several questions. The use of a constant mark-up pricing model in reduced form to control for cyclical effects on profitability is questioned because of evidence that the mark-up is variable, and some suggestions for incorporating this evidence into applied studies of profitability are offered. Several empirical puzzles are identified. The apparent decline in capital productivity is one; the more pronounced decline in before-tax profitability compared to after-tax profitability is another.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_1.

in new window

Date of creation: Nov 1987
Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_1
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Harcourt,G. C., 1972. "Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521096720, March.
  2. George M. Von Furstenberg, 1977. "Corporate Investment: Does Market Valuation Matter in the Aggregate?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 8(2), pages 347-408.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Elizabeth Dunn)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.