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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. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
  2. 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.
  3. John Van Reenen & Nick Bloom & Steve Bond, 2006. "Uncertainty and investment dynamics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2645, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. G. William Schwert, 1988. "Why Does Stock Market Volatility Change Over Time?," NBER Working Papers 2798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bertola, Guiseppe & Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Irreversibility and Aggregate Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 223-46, April.
  6. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 85-106, February.
  7. Diego Comin & Mark Gertler, 2006. "Medium-Term Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 523-551, June.
  8. Nick Bloom, 2006. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks: Firm Level Estimation and a 9/11 Simulation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0718, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Nick Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," NBER Working Papers 12216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Eduardo S. Schwartz, 2003. "Patents and R&D as Real Options," NBER Working Papers 10114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gadi Barlevy, 2007. "On the Cyclicality of Research and Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1131-1164, September.
  12. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 5474.
  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. 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.
  15. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Bloom, Nick & Griffith, Rachel & Van Reenen, John, 2002. "Do R&D tax credits work? Evidence from a panel of countries 1979-1997," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 1-31, July.
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