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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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4241.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4241.

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Date of creation: Dec 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ricerche Economiche 47: 3-30 (1993)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4241
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. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Valerie A. Ramey, 1992. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," NBER Working Papers 4105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Haltiwanger & Russell Cooper, 1992. "The Aggregate Implications Of Machine Replacement: Theory And Evidence," Working Papers 92-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Scheinkman, Jose A, 1990. "Nonlinearities in Economic Dynamics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 33-48, Supplemen.
  4. 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.
  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. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1986. "Micro Shocks and Aggregate Risks," Working Papers 86-14, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  7. 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, June.
  8. Benoit Mandelbrot, 1963. "The Variation of Certain Speculative Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36, pages 394.
  9. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
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