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Idiosyncratic Shocks and the Role of Nonconvexities in Plant and Aggregate Investment Dynamics

  • Aubhik Khan
  • Julia Thomas

We study a model of lumpy investment wherein establishments face persistent shocks to common and plant-specific productivity, and nonconvex adjustment costs lead them to pursue generalized (S,s) investment rules. We allow persistent heterogeneity in both capital and total factor productivity alongside low-level investments exempt from adjustment costs to develop the first model consistent with available evidence on establishment-level investment rates. Examining the implications of lumpy investment for aggregate dynamics in this setting, we find that they remain substantial when factor supply considerations are ignored, but are quantitatively irrelevant in general equilibrium. The substantial implications of general equilibrium extend beyond the dynamics of aggregate series. While the presence of idiosyncratic shocks makes the time-averaged distribution of plant-level investment rates largely invariant to market-clearing movements in real wages and interest rates, we show that the dynamics of plants' investments differ sharply in their presence. Thus, model-based estimations of capital adjustment costs involving panel data may be quite sensitive to the assumption about equilibrium. Our analysis also offers new insights about how nonconvex adjustment costs influence investment at the plant. When establishments face idiosyncratic productivity shocks consistent with existing estimates, we find that nonconvex costs do not cause lumpy investments, but act to eliminate them.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12845.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Publication status: published as Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, 2008. "Idiosyncratic Shocks and the Role of Nonconvexities in Plant and Aggregate Investment Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 395-436, 03.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12845
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  1. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
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  4. Aubhik Khan & Julia K. Thomas, . "Nonconvex Factor Adjustments in Equilibrium Business Cycle Models: Do Nonlinearities Matter?," GSIA Working Papers 2000-E33, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
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  13. Ruediger Bachmann & Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel, 2008. "Aggregate Implications of Lumpy Investment: New Evidence and a DSGE Model," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1566R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2010.
  14. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
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  16. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1999. "Aggregate investment," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 813-862 Elsevier.
  17. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Plant-Level Adjustment and Aggregate Investment Dynamics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 1-54.
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