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Do Firms Smooth the Seasonal in Production in a Boom? Theory and Evidence

Author

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  • Stephen G. Cecchetti
  • Anil K. Kashyap
  • David W. Wilcox

Abstract

Using disaggregated production data we show that the size of seasonal cycles changes significantly over the course of the business cycle. In particular, during periods of high economy-wide activity, some industries smooth seasonal fluctuations while others exaggerate them. We interpret this finding using a simple analytical model that describes the conditions under which seasonal and cyclical fluctuations can be separated. Our model implies that seasonal fluctuations can safely be disentangled from cyclical fluctuations only when the marginal cost of production is linear, and the variation in demand and cost satisfy certain (restrictive) conditions. The model also suggests that inventory movements can be used to isolate the role of demand shifts in generating any interaction between seasonal cycles and business cycles. Thus, the empirical analysis involves studying the variation in seasonally unadjusted patterns of production and inventory accumulation over different phases of the business cycle. Our finding that seasonals shrink during booms and that firms carry more inventories into high sales seasons during a boom leads us to conclude that for several industries, marginal cost slopes up at an increasing rate. Conversely, in a couple of industries we find that seasonal swings in production are exaggerated during booms and that inventories are drawn down prior to high sales seasons, suggesting that marginal costs curves flatten as production increases. Overall, we find considerable evidence that there are non-linear interactions between business cycles and seasonal cycles.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen G. Cecchetti & Anil K. Kashyap & David W. Wilcox, 1995. "Do Firms Smooth the Seasonal in Production in a Boom? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5011 Note: EFG ME
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fair, Ray C., 1989. "The production-smoothing model is alive and well," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 353-370, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Charles A. Fleischman, 1996. "The endogeneity of employment adjustment costs: the tradeoff between efficiency and flexibility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1996-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Hall, George J., 2000. "Non-convex costs and capital utilization: A study of production scheduling at automobile assembly plants," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 681-716.
    3. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1995. "The seasonality of consumer prices," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 12-23.
    4. Cecchetti, Stephen G. & Kashyap, Anil K, 1996. "International cycles," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 331-360, February.
    5. Tomiura, Eiichi, 1998. "Correlation of seasonal variation and nonseasonal variation of production at the establishment level," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 201-205, May.
    6. Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1997. "Measuring short-run inflation for central bankers," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 143-155.
    7. George J. Hall, 1996. "Non-convex costs and capital utilization: a study of production and inventories at automobile assembly plants," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • C49 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Other

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