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Factor Hoarding and the Propagation of Business Cycles Shocks

  • Craig Burnside
  • Martin Eichenbaum

This paper analyzes the role of variable capital utilization rates in propagating shocks over the business cycle. To this end we formulate and estimate an equilibrium business cycle model in which cyclical capital utilization rates are viewed as a form of factor hoarding. We find that variable capital utilization rates substantially magnify and propagate the impact of shocks to agents' environments. The strength of these propagation effects is evident in the dynamic response functions of various economy wide aggregates to shocks in agents' environments, in the statistics that we construct to summarize the strength of the propagation mechanisms in the model and in the volatility of exogenous technology shocks needed to explain the observed variability in aggregate U.S. output. Other authors have argued that standard Real Business Cycle (RBC) models fail to account for certain features of the data because they do not embody quantitatively important propagation mechanisms. These features include the observed positive serial correlation in the growth rate of output, the shape of the spectrum of the growth rate of real output and the correlation between the forecastable component of real output and various other economic aggregates. Allowing for variable capital utilization rates substantially improves the ability of the model to account for these features of the data.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4675.

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Date of creation: Mar 1994
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Publication status: published as American Economic Review, December,1996.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4675
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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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Bils, Mark & Cho, Jang-Ok, 1994. "Cyclical factor utilization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 319-354, April.
  2. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1988. "Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 877R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jul 1989.
  3. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Staff Report 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Beveridge, Stephen & Nelson, Charles R., 1981. "A new approach to decomposition of economic time series into permanent and transitory components with particular attention to measurement of the `business cycle'," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174.
  5. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Ramey, Valerie A, 1993. "Segment Shifts and Capacity Utilization in the U.S. Automobile Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 213-18, May.
  6. King, Robert G & Rebelo, Sergio T, 1993. "Transitional Dynamics and Economic Growth in the Neoclassical Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 908-31, September.
  7. Lawrence J. Christiano & Wouter J. Den Haan, 1995. "Small Sample Properties of GMM for Business Cycle Analysis," NBER Technical Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hercowitz, Z., 1992. "Macroeconomic Implication of Investment-Specific Technological Change," Papers 13-92, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  9. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1990. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 3556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1992. "Current Real-Business-Cycle Theories and Aggregate Labor-Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 430-50, June.
  11. Robert J. Hodrick & Edward Prescott, 1981. "Post-War U.S. Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation," Discussion Papers 451, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. Shapiro, Matthew D, 1993. "Cyclical Productivity and the Workweek of Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 229-33, May.
  13. King, Robert G. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1993. "Low frequency filtering and real business cycles," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 207-231.
  14. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  15. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
  16. Rotemberg, Julio J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1990. "Inflexible Prices and Procyclical Productivity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 851-74, November.
  17. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1989. "Assessing the Federal Reserve's Measures of Capacity and Utilization," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 181-242.
  18. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
  19. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin S, 1996. "Small-Sample Properties of GMM-Based Wald Tests," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 294-308, July.
  20. Christiano, Lawrence J., 1988. "Why does inventory investment fluctuate so much?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 247-280.
  21. Mary G. Finn, 1991. "Energy price shocks, capacity utilization and business cycle fluctuations," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 50, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  22. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  23. Mark W. Watson, 1991. "Measures of Fit for Calibrated Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Basu, S., 1993. "Procyclical Productivity: Overhead Inputs or Cyclical Utilization," Papers 93-25, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  25. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1988. "The workweek of capital and its cyclical implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 343-360.
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