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Uncertainty and Investment Dynamics

  • Nick Bloom
  • John Van Reenen
  • Stephen Bond

This paper shows that, with (partial) irreversibility, higher uncertainty reduces the impact effect of demand shocks on investment. Uncertainty increases real option values making firms more cautious when investing or disinvesting. This is confirmed both numerically for a model with a rich mix of adjustment costs, time-varying uncertainty, and aggregation over investment decisions and time, and also empirically for a panel of manufacturing firms. These cautionary effects of uncertainty are large %u2013 going from the lower quartile to the upper quartile of the uncertainty distribution typically halves the first year investment response to demand shocks. This implies the responsiveness of firms to any given policy stimulus may be much lower in periods of high uncertainty, such as after major shocks like OPEC I and 9/11.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12383.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12383.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Publication status: published as Nick Bloom & Stephen Bond & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Uncertainty and Investment Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 74(2), pages 391-415, 04.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12383
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  22. Abel, Andrew B & Eberly, Janice C, 1994. "A Unified Model of Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1369-84, December.
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  27. Mark E. Doms & Timothy Dunne, 1998. "Capital Adjustment Patterns in Manufacturing Plants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(2), pages 409-429, April.
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  29. Oivind Anti Nilsen & Fabio Schiantarelli, 1996. "Zeroes and Lumps in Investment: Empirical Evidence on Irreversibilities and Non-Convexities," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 337., Boston College Department of Economics, revised 01 Nov 2000.
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