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Macroeconomic Implications of Production Bunching

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  • Russell Cooper
  • John C. Haltiwanger

Abstract

The literature on inventory holdings stresses their role in smoothing production when costs are convex. Existing empirical evidence suggests that output is more variable than consumption so that production smoothing is not apparently present. One way of explaining this finding is to allow for nonconvex technologies. In this paper, we investigate some macroeconomic implications of the proposition that at least some firms in the economy produce with non-convex technologies. We begin our analysis by studying a simple Robinson Crusoe economy with a single, storable good which is produced from a non-convex technology. The single agent can produce a finite amount of output simply by incurring a fixed production cost. We demonstrate that the efficient solution to this problem will entail periods of production followed by periods of inactivity: i.e. production will be bunched rather than smoothed. More importantly, inventories will be used to smooth consumption relative to this production path. Still, as long as the agent discounts the future or inventories depreciate over time, consumption will not be totally smooth. Instead, consumption will be highest in periods of production. Thus the non-convex technology will induce fluctuations in both production and consumption. Using this analysis as a starting point, we then consider the implications of a non -convex technology in one sector of the economy for the behavior of other sectors through intersectoral technological linkages for both centralized and decentralized economies. For the centralized setting, the extent to which non- convexities spillover to other sectors depends on the degree to which intermediate and final goods can be inventoried and the nature of the technological interaction between factors. For the decentralized economy, the production of inputs which are strategic complements (substitutes) will be synchronized (staggered). Thus the presence of strategic complementarities (as in imperfectly competitive markets) will imply that non-convexities will have aggregate implications.

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  • Russell Cooper & John C. Haltiwanger, 1989. "Macroeconomic Implications of Production Bunching," NBER Working Papers 2976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2976
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    13. Eichenbaum, Martin, 1989. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 853-864, September.
    14. Barsky, Robert B & Miron, Jeffrey A, 1989. "The Seasonal Cycle and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 503-534, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Building Blocks of Market Clearing Business Cycle Models," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 247-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James A. Kahn & Mark Bils, 2000. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us about Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 458-481, June.
    3. Braun, R Anton & Evans, Charles L, 1998. "Seasonal Solow Residuals and Christmas: A Case for Labor Hoarding and Increasing Returns," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(3), pages 306-330, August.
    4. Roman Sustek, 2005. "Plant-Level Nonconvexities and the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Working Papers 2005/09, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    5. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Increasing Returns, Durables and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 3014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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