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Oil, Automobiles, and the U.S. Economy: How Much have Things Really Changed?

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  • Valerie A. Ramey
  • Daniel J. Vine

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of oil shocks on the U.S. economy--and on the motor vehicle industry in particular--and re-examines whether the relationship has changed over time. We find remarkable stability in the response of aggregate real variables to oil shocks once we account for the extra costs imposed on the economy in the 1970s by price controls and a complex system of entitlements that led to some rationing and shortages. To investigate further why the response of real variables to oil shocks has not declined over time, we focus on the motor vehicle industry, which is considered the most important channel through which oil shocks affect the economy. We find that, contrary to common perceptions, the share of motor vehicles in total U.S. goods production has shown little decline over time. Moreover, within the motor vehicle industry, the effects of oil shocks on the mix of vehicle sold and on capacity utilization appear to have been proportional in recent decades to the effects observed in the 1970s.

Suggested Citation

  • Valerie A. Ramey & Daniel J. Vine, 2010. "Oil, Automobiles, and the U.S. Economy: How Much have Things Really Changed?," NBER Working Papers 16067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16067
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olivier J. Blanchard & Marianna Riggi, 2013. "WHY ARE THE 2000s SO DIFFERENT FROM THE 1970s? A STRUCTURAL INTERPRETATION OF CHANGES IN THE MACROECONOMIC EFFECTS OF OIL PRICES," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(5), pages 1032-1052, October.
    2. Lutz Kilian, 2010. "Explaining Fluctuations in Gasoline Prices: A Joint Model of the Global Crude Oil Market and the U.S. Retail Gasoline Market," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 87-112.
    3. Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2008. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 113-134.
    4. Christopher R. Knittel, 2011. "Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-Offs and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3368-3399, December.
    5. Chao Wei, 2013. "A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Driving, Gasoline Use and Vehicle Fuel Efficiency," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 650-667, October.
    6. Knittel, Christopher R., 2009. "Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-O�s and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt2nt1r1x1, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lutz Kilian & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2017. "The Role of Oil Price Shocks in Causing U.S. Recessions," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 49(8), pages 1747-1776, December.
    2. Ramey, V.A., 2016. "Macroeconomic Shocks and Their Propagation," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    3. Breitenfellner, Andreas & Crespo Cuaresma, Jesús & Mayer, Philipp, 2015. "Energy inflation and house price corrections," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 109-116.
    4. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian & Xiaoqing Zhou, 2017. "Is the Discretionary Income Effect of Oil Price Shocks a Hoax?," Staff Working Papers 17-50, Bank of Canada.
    5. Andrea Bastianin & Matteo Manera, 2015. "How Does Stock Market Volatility React to Oil Shocks?," Working Papers 2014.110, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Elstner, Steffen, 2012. "Uncertainty, heterogeneous expectation errors and economic activity: evidence from business survey data," Munich Dissertations in Economics 14037, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    7. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2016. "Forty Years of Oil Price Fluctuations: Why the Price of Oil May Still Surprise Us," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 139-160, Winter.
    8. Michele Piffer & Maximilian Podstawski, 2016. "Identifying Uncertainty Shocks Using the Price of Gold," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1549, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:47:y:2016:i:2016-02:p:287-357 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Laura Cueppers & Dieter Smeets, 2015. "How Do Oil Price Changes Affect German Stock Returns?," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 5(1), pages 321-334.
    11. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Killian, 2016. "Lower Oil Prices and the U.S. Economy: Is This Time Different?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 47(2 (Fall)), pages 287-357.
    12. Ahmadi, Maryam & Manera, Matteo & Sadeghzadeh, Mehdi, 2016. "Global oil market and the U.S. stock returns," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 1277-1287.
    13. Hamilton, James D., 2011. "Nonlinearities And The Macroeconomic Effects Of Oil Prices," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(S3), pages 364-378, November.
    14. Selien De Schryder and Gert Peersman, 2015. "The U.S. Dollar Exchange Rate and the Demand for Oil," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    15. repec:cup:macdyn:v:22:y:2018:i:03:p:666-682_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Franco Ruzzenenti & Andreas A. Papandreou, 2015. "Effects of fossil fuel prices on the transition to a low-carbon economy," Working papers wpaper89, Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project.
    17. Chancel, Lucas, 2014. "Are younger generations higher carbon emitters than their elders?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 195-207.
    18. Nnaemeka Vincent Emodi & Kyung-Jin Boo, 2015. "Sustainable Energy Development in Nigeria: Overcoming Energy Poverty," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 5(2), pages 580-597.
    19. repec:eee:eneeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:469-482 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2012. "Disentangling the Channels of the 2007-2009 Recession," NBER Working Papers 18094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy

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