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Uncertainty and the Dynamics of R&D

  • Nicholas Bloom

Uncertainty varies strongly over time, rising by 50% to 100% in recessions and by up to 200% after major economic and political shocks. This paper shows that higher uncertainty reduces the responsiveness of R&D to changes in business conditions - a "caution-effect" - making it more persistent over time. Thus, uncertainty will play a critical role in shaping the dynamics of R&D through the business cycle, and its response to technology policy. I also show that if firms are increasing their level of R&D then the effect of uncertainty will be negative, while if firms are reducing R&D then the effect of uncertainty will be positive.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12841.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12841.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Publication status: published as Nick Bloom, 2007. "Uncertainty and the Dynamics of R&D," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 250-255, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12841
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  1. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 85-106, February.
  2. Nicholas Bloom & Rachel Griffith & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Do R&D Tax Credits Work? Evidence from a Panel of Countries 1979-1997," Discussion Papers 07-020, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  3. Nick Bloom, 2006. "The impact of uncertainty shocks: firm level estimation and a 9/11 simulation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19867, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
  5. Hassler, John A. A., 1996. "Variations in risk and fluctuations in demand: A theoretical model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1115-1143.
  6. Abel, Andrew B & Eberly, Janice C, 1996. "Optimal Investment with Costly Reversibility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 581-93, October.
  7. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen & Stephen Bond, 2006. "Uncertainty and Investment Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 12383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408, November.
  9. Comin, D. & Gertler, M., 2003. "Medium Term Business Cycles," Working Papers 03-05, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  10. Bertola, Guiseppe & Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Irreversibility and Aggregate Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 223-46, April.
  11. G. William Schwert, 1990. "Why Does Stock Market Volatility Change Over Time?," NBER Working Papers 2798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gadi Barlevy, 2007. "On the Cyclicality of Research and Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1131-1164, September.
  13. Russell W. Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 2000. "On the Nature of Capital Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 7925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eduardo S. Schwartz, 2003. "Patents and R&D as Real Options," NBER Working Papers 10114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Topel, Robert H & Rosen, Sherwin, 1988. "Housing Investment in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 718-40, August.
  16. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 5474, April.
  18. McDonald, Robert & Siegel, Daniel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-27, November.
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