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Inventories, Rational Expectations, and the Business Cycle

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  • Alan S. Blinder
  • Stanley Fischer

Abstract

The simplest macroeconomic models in which markets clear instantaneously, and expectations are rational preclude the existence of "business cycles," that is, of serially correlated deviations of output from trend. This paper studies one of several mechanisms that can be used to make these so-called "new-classical" models produce business cycles; the mechanism is the gradual adjustment of inventory stocks. Two microeconomic models of inventory holdings are formulated. Both imply, first, that current output should be a decreasing function of the stock of inventories and, second, that inventories, once perturbed from equilibrium levels, should adjust only gradually. These two features are then embedded into an otherwise standard macroeconomic model in which markets clear instantaneously and expectations are rational. Two principal conclusions are reached. First, disturbances such as unanticipated changes in money will set in motion serially correlated deviations of output from trend. Second, if desired inventories are sensitive to the real interest rate, then even fully anticipated changes in money can affect real variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Blinder & Stanley Fischer, 1979. "Inventories, Rational Expectations, and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 0381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0381 Note: EFG
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    1. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-254, April.
    2. Duncan K. Foley & Martin F. Hellwig, 1975. "Asset Management with Trading Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(3), pages 327-346.
    3. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
    4. McCallum, Bennett T, 1977. "Price-Level Stickiness and the Feasibility of Monetary Stabilization Policy with Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 627-634, June.
    5. Phelps, Edmund S & Taylor, John B, 1977. "Stabilizing Powers of Monetary Policy under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 163-190, February.
    6. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
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