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The impact of uncertainty on investment plans

Author

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  • Paul Butzen

    () (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • Catherine Fuss

    () (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • Philip Vermeulen

    () (European Central Bank)

Abstract

In this paper we investigate how demand and output price uncertainty affect investment plans of Belgian manufacturing firms. We obtain time-varying uncertainty measures at the firm and industry level from the Belgian monthly business cycle survey and investment plans from the half-yearly investment survey. Using investment plans instead of realised investment data, e.g. annual accounts data, is, from an informative point of view, superior since it is more likely to reveal the features of the decision formation process and, therefore, it is most closely related to economic theory. Business investment is normally planned well in advance, because it involves time and costs to implement, and theory describes the behaviour of firms at the moment of their decision, which can be assumed to be fully captured in survey data. In order to find robust predictions we estimate three different specifications, each of which can be considered as a benchmark in the literature: two reduced form equations and a structural Euler equation. Our results show that uncertainty depresses investment. These results hold for industry- as well as for firmspecific demand uncertainty. Moreover, referring to Euler equation, uncertainty postpones investment today in favour of investment tomorrow. This effect is stronger for firms with more irreversible investment. Hence, our results seem to confirm to predictions of the real option theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Butzen & Catherine Fuss & Philip Vermeulen, 2002. "The impact of uncertainty on investment plans," Working Paper Research 24, National Bank of Belgium.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:reswpp:200205-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Konstantinos Dimitrios Drakos & Eleftherios Goulas, 2010. "Investment in Greek manufacturing under irreversibility and uncertainty: the message in used capital expenditures," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(14), pages 1797-1809.
    2. Bontempi, Maria Elena & Golinelli, Roberto & Parigi, Giuseppe, 2010. "Why demand uncertainty curbs investment: Evidence from a panel of Italian manufacturing firms," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 218-238, March.
    3. António Afonso & João Tovar Jalles, 2011. "Linking Investment and Fiscal Policies," Working Papers Department of Economics 2011/16, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    4. Pablo Acosta & Andrés Loza, 2005. "Short and long run determinants of private investment in Argentina," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 8, pages 389-406, November.
    5. Ulf von Kalckreuth, 2003. "Exploring the role of uncertainty for corporate investment decisions in Germany," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 139(II), pages 173-206, June.
    6. Chirinko, Robert S. & Schaller, Huntley, 2009. "The irreversibility premium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 390-408, April.
    7. Geert Langenus, 2006. "Fiscal sustainability indicators and policy design in the face of ageing," Working Paper Research 102, National Bank of Belgium.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    investment; uncertainty; irreversibility; real options; survey data;

    JEL classification:

    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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