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Fixed Costs and Long-Lived Investments

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  • Christopher L. House

Abstract

Neoclassical investment models predict that firms should make frequent, small adjustments to their capital stocks. Microeconomic evidence, however, shows just the opposite -- firms make infrequent, large adjustments to their capital stocks. In response, researchers have developed models with fixed costs of adjustment to explain the data. While these models generate the observed firm-level investment behavior, it is not clear that the aggregate behavior of these models differs importantly from the aggregate behavior of neoclassical models. This is important since most of our existing understanding of investment is based on models without fixed costs. Moreover, models with fixed costs have non-degenerate, time-varying distributions of capital holdings across firms, making the models extremely difficult to analyze. This paper shows that, for sufficiently long-lived capital, (1) the cross-sectional distribution of capital holdings has virtually no bearing on the equilibrium and (2) the aggregate behavior of the fixed-cost model is virtually identical to that of the neoclassical model. The findings are due to a near infinite elasticity of investment timing for long-lived capital goods -- a feature that fixed-cost models and neoclassical models share. The analysis shows that the so-called "irrelevance results" obtained in recent numerical studies of fixed-cost models are not parametric special cases but instead reflect fundamental properties of long-lived investments.

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  • Christopher L. House, 2008. "Fixed Costs and Long-Lived Investments," NBER Working Papers 14402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14402
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jianjun Miao & Pengfei Wang, 2014. "A Q-theory model with lumpy investment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 57(1), pages 133-159, September.
    2. Kryvtsov, Oleksiy & Midrigan, Virgiliu, 2010. "Inventories and real rigidities in New Keynesian business cycle models," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 259-281, June.
    3. Elsby, Michael W.L. & Michaels, Ryan, 2019. "Fixed adjustment costs and aggregate fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 128-147.
    4. Nicholas Bloom & Max Floetotto & Nir Jaimovich & Itay Saporta†Eksten & Stephen J. Terry, 2018. "Really Uncertain Business Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(3), pages 1031-1065, May.
    5. Jack Favilukis & Xiaoji Lin, 2011. "Micro Frictions, Asset Pricing and Aggregate," FMG Discussion Papers dp673, Financial Markets Group.
    6. Rüdiger Bachmann & Lin Ma, 2016. "Lumpy Investment, Lumpy Inventories," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 48(5), pages 821-855, August.
    7. Fiori, Giuseppe, 2012. "Lumpiness, capital adjustment costs and investment dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(4), pages 381-392.
    8. Xiaoji Lin & Jack Favilukis, 2011. "Micro Frictions, Asset Pricing, and Aggregate Implications," 2011 Meeting Papers 466, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Fabio Verona, 2011. "Lumpy investment in sticky information general equilibrium," CEF.UP Working Papers 1102, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    10. Oleksiy Kryvtsov & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2013. "Inventories, Markups, and Real Rigidities in Menu Cost Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 249-276.
    11. Jianjun Miao & Pengfei Wang, "undated". "Does Lumpy Investment Matter for Business Cycles?," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2010-002, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    12. Oleksiy Kryvtsov & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2011. "Inventories, Markups and Real Rigidities in Sticky Price Models of the Canadian Economy," Staff Working Papers 11-9, Bank of Canada.
    13. Michael K. Johnston, 2009. "Real and Nominal Frictions within the Firm: How Lumpy Investment Matters for Price Adjustment," Staff Working Papers 09-36, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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