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A Unified Model of Investment Under Uncertainty

  • Andrew B. Abel
  • Janice C. Eberly

This paper extends the theory of investment under uncertainty to incorporate fixed costs of investment, a wedge between the purchase price and sale price of capital, and potential irreversibility of investment. In this extended framework, investment is a non-decreasing function of q, the shadow price of installed capital. There are potentially three investment regimes, which depend on the value of q relative to two critical values. For values of q above the upper critical value, investment is positive and is an increasing function of q, as is standard in the theory branch of the adjustment cost literature. For intermediate values of q, between two critical values, investment is zero. Although this regime features prominently in the irreversibility literature, it is largely ignored in the adjustment cost literature. Finally, if q is below the lower critical value, gross investment is negative, a possibility that is ruled out by assumption in the irreversibility of literature. In general, however, the shadow price q is not directly observable, so we present two examples relating q to observable varieties.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4296.

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Date of creation: Mar 1993
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 84, no. 1 (December 1994): 1369-1384.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4296
Note: EFG
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  1. Lam, Pok-sang, 1989. "Irreversibility and consumer durables expenditures," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 135-150, January.
  2. Rothschild, Michael, 1971. "On the Cost of Adjustment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 605-22, November.
  3. Bertola, Guiseppe & Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Irreversibility and Aggregate Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 223-46, April.
  4. Sanford J. Grossman & Guy Laroque, 1987. "Asset Pricing and Optimal Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Illiquid Durable Consumption Goods," NBER Working Papers 2369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Abel, Andrew B & Blanchard, Olivier J, 1983. "An Intertemporal Model of Saving and Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 675-92, May.
  6. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-24, January.
  7. Eberly, Janice C, 1994. "Adjustment of Consumers' Durables Stocks: Evidence from Automobile Purchases," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 403-36, June.
  8. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "On the Sign of the Investment-Uncertainty Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 279-88, March.
  9. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
  10. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
  11. Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Irreversibility, uncertainty, and investment," Working papers 3137-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  12. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-33, March.
  13. Mussa, Michael L, 1977. "External and Internal Adjustment Costs and the Theory of Aggregate and Firm Investment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(174), pages 163-78, May.
  14. Robert E. Lucas & Jr., 1967. "Adjustment Costs and the Theory of Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 321.
  15. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1980. "On the state of macroeconomics," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-5, January.
  16. Treadway, Arthur B, 1969. "On Rational Entrepreneurial Behaviour and the Demand for Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(106), pages 227-39, April.
  17. Pindyck, Robert S, 1982. "Adjustment Costs, Uncertainty, and the Behavior of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 415-27, June.
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