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Firms, Destinations, and Aggregate Fluctuations

  • Julian di Giovanni
  • Andrei Levchenko
  • Isabelle Mejean

This paper uses a database covering the universe of French firms for the period 1990--2007 to provide a forensic account of the role of individual firms in generating aggregate fluctuations. We set up a simple multi-sector model of heterogeneous firms selling to multiple markets to motivate a theoretically-founded decomposition of firms' annual sales growth rate into different components. We find that the firm-specific component contributes substantially to aggregate sales volatility, mattering about as much as the components capturing shocks that are common across firms within a sector or country. We then decompose the firm-specific component to provide evidence on two mechanisms that generate aggregate fluctuations from microeconomic shocks highlighted in the recent literature: (i) when the firm size distribution is fat-tailed, idiosyncratic shocks to large firms directly contribute to aggregate fluctuations; and (ii) aggregate fluctuations can arise from idiosyncratic shocks due to input-output linkages across the economy. Firm linkages are approximately three times as important as the direct effect of firm shocks in driving aggregate fluctuations.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20061.

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Date of creation: Apr 2014
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Publication status: published as Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko & Isabelle Mejean, 2014. "Firms, Destinations, and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(4), pages 1303-1340, 07.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20061
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