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Aggregate Fluctuations from Independent Sectoral Shocks: Self-Organized Criticality in a Model of Production and Inventory Dynamics


  • Peter Bak
  • Kan Chen
  • Jose Scheinkman
  • Michael Woodford


This paper illustrates how fluctuations in aggregate economic activity can result from many small, independent shocks to individual sectors. The effects of the small independent shocks fail to cancel in the aggregate due to the presence of two non-standard assumptions: local interaction between productive units (linked by supply relationships), and non-convex technology. We also argue that neither feature on its own would suffice. In the case of a simple model, we explicitly calculate the distribution of aggregate activity in the limit of an infinite number of independently disturbed sectors.

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  • Peter Bak & Kan Chen & Jose Scheinkman & Michael Woodford, 1992. "Aggregate Fluctuations from Independent Sectoral Shocks: Self-Organized Criticality in a Model of Production and Inventory Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 4241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4241
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    1. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, January.
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    3. Alan S. Blinder & Louis J. Maccini, 1991. "Taking Stock: A Critical Assessment of Recent Research on Inventories," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 73-96, Winter.
    4. Cooper, Russell & Haltiwanger, John, 1993. "The Aggregate Implications of Machine Replacement: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 360-382, June.
    5. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
    6. Scheinkman, Jose A, 1990. "Nonlinearities in Economic Dynamics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 33-48, Supplemen.
    7. Boyan Jovanovic, 1987. "Micro Shocks and Aggregate Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 395-409.
    8. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Valerie A. Ramey, 1994. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 593-624.
    9. Benoit Mandelbrot, 2015. "The Variation of Certain Speculative Prices," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: THE WORLD SCIENTIFIC HANDBOOK OF FUTURES MARKETS, chapter 3, pages 39-78 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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