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The "Fundamental Transformation" in Macroeconomics

  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Mohamad L. Hammour

When factors enter into joint-production, they typically develop a degree of specificity with respect to each other. It is well known that, when combined with contracting difficulties, specificity gives rise to a Williamsonian 'Fundamental Transformation' from an ex-ante competitive relationship to an ex-post bilateral monopoly. The macroeconomic consequences of widespread specificity are far-reaching. Specificity results in misallocation, underutilization, and unemployment of the economy's productive factors; it hampers growth by depressing the incentives to replace what is outdated and to fully utilize the economy's resources; it disrupts macroeconomic adjustment by inducing a wedge between timid creation and excessive destruction of the old system; and it exacerbates downturns by `elastifying' the cyclical response of inelastic factors.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5471.

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Date of creation: Feb 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, papers and proceedings, 86(2) may 1996
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5471
Note: EFG
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  1. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1994. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1350-68, December.
  2. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
  3. Hall, Robert E & Lazear, Edward P, 1984. "The Excess Sensitivity of Layoffs and Quits to Demand," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 233-57, April.
  4. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1995. "On the Ills of Adjustment," Working papers 95-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  6. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-61, October.
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