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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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  8. Bloom, Nicholas & Bond, Stephen Roy & Van Reenen, John, 2003. "Uncertainty and Company Investment Dynamics: Empirical Evidence for UK Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  15. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  16. Stephen Bond & Alexander Klemm & Rain Newton-Smith & Murtaza Syed & Gertjan Vlieghe, 2004. "The roles of expected profitability, Tobin's Q and cash flow in econometric models of company investment," Bank of England working papers 222, Bank of England.
  17. Eberly, Janice C. & Van Mieghem, Jan A., 1997. "Multi-factor Dynamic Investment under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 345-387, August.
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  20. Caballero, R.J., 1996. "Fixed Costs: The Demise of Marginal q," Working papers 96-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  21. Nicholas Bloom, 2000. "The dynamic effects of real options and irreversibility on investment and labour demand," IFS Working Papers W00/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  22. John Y. Campbell & Martin Lettau & Burton G. Malkiel & Yexiao Xu, 2000. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," NBER Working Papers 7590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2000. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 7925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Timothy Erickson & Toni M. Whited, 2000. "Measurement Error and the Relationship between Investment and q," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1027-1057, October.
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  28. Joanne M. Doyle & Toni M. Whited, 2001. "Fixed Costs Of Adjustment, Coordination, And Industry Investment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 628-637, November.
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