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Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment

  • Martin S. Eichenbaum

The production smoothing model of inventories has long been the basic paradigm within which empirical research on inventories has been conducted The basic hypothesis embedded In this model IS that inventories of finished goods serve primarily to smooth production levels in the face of fluctuating demand and convex cost functions. However once we allow for shocks to technology and the costs of producing output firms will also use inventories to shift production from periods in which production costs are relatively high to periods in which production costs are relatively low. In this sense inventories can serve to smooth production costs rather production levels. In this paper we examine the empirical plausibility of the production level and production cost smoothing models of inventories. Our basic strategy is to derive and contrast a set of unconditional moment restrictions Implied by these models in a way that minimizes the role of auxiliary assumptions regarding market structure and Industry demand. We find overwhelming evidence against the production level smoothing model and very little evidence against the production cost smoothing mode1 We conclude that the variance of production exceeds the variance of sales in most manufacturing industries because the production cost smoothing role of inventories is quantitatively more important than the production level smoothing role of inventories.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2523.

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Date of creation: Feb 1988
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Publication status: published as The American Economic Review, Vol. 79, No. 4, pp. 853-864, (September 1989)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2523
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Kenneth D. West, 1985. "A Variance Bounds Test of the Linear Quardractic Inventory Model," NBER Working Papers 1581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blinder, Alan S, 1986. "Can the Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior Be Saved?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(3), pages 431-53, August.
  3. Eichenbaum, Martin S & Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1988. "A Time Series Analysis of Representative Agent Models of Consumption and Leisure Choice under Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 51-78, February.
  4. Eichenbaum, Martin S., 1984. "Rational expectations and the smoothing properties of inventories of finished goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 71-96, July.
  5. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Seasonality, Cost Shocks and the Production Smoothing Model of Inventories," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 1-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. Blinder, Alan S, 1986. "More on the Speed of Adjustment in Inventory Models," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(3), pages 355-65, August.
  7. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  8. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1983. "The Production and Inventory Behavior of the American Automobile Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 365-400, June.
  9. West, Kenneth D., 1983. "A note on the econometric use of constant dollar inventory series," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 337-341.
  10. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Lars Peter Hansen, 1987. "Estimating Models with Intertemporal Substitution Using Aggregate Time Series Data," NBER Working Papers 2181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin S. Eichenbaum, 1986. "Temporal Aggregation and Structural Inference in Macroeconomics," NBER Technical Working Papers 0060, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Cumby, Robert E. & Huizinga, John & Obstfeld, Maurice, 1983. "Two-step two-stage least squares estimation in models with rational expectations," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 333-355, April.
  13. Peter M. Garber & Robert G. King, 1983. "Deep Structral Excavation? A Critique of Euler Equation Methods," NBER Technical Working Papers 0031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eichenbaum, Martin, 1983. "A rational expectations equilibrium model of inventories of finished goods and employment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 259-277.
  15. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "Instrumental variables procedures for estimating linear rational expectations models," Staff Report 70, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Thomas J. Sargent, 1978. "Estimation of dynamic labor demand schedules under rational expectations," Staff Report 27, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Maccini, Louis J & Rossana, Robert J, 1984. "Joint Production, Quasi-Fixed Factors of Production, and Investement in Finished Goods Inventories," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 16(2), pages 218-36, May.
  18. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
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