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Cyclical Productivity with Unobserved Input Variation

Listed author(s):
  • Susanto Basu
  • Miles S. Kimball

In this paper, we derive and estimate relationships governing variable utilization of capital and labor for a firm solving a dynamic cost-minimization problem. Our method allows for (i) imperfect competition, (ii) increasing returns to scale, (iii) unobserved changes in utilization, (iv) unobserved changes in technology, (v) unobserved fluctuations in the factor prices of capital and labor, (vi) unobserved fluctuations in the shadow price of output, and (vii) the non-existence of a value-added production function. We can estimate the parameters of interest without imposing specific functional forms or using restrictions from assuming the existence of a representative consumer. We find that variable capital and labor utilization explain 40-60 percent of the cyclicality of the Solow residual in U.S. manufacturing, so true technology shocks have a lower correlation with output than the RBC literature assumes. Controlling for variable utilization also eliminates the evidence for increasing returns to scale. We show that our model-based proxies for variable utilization are valid even when extending the workweek of capital potentially has two costs: a shift premium paid to workers, as well as a higher rate of depreciation. Thus, these proxies can be used under very general conditions in a wide range of empirical work.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5915.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5915.

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Date of creation: Feb 1997
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5915
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  1. Shapiro, Matthew D, 1993. "Cyclical Productivity and the Workweek of Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 229-233, May.
  2. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 1995. "Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 165-188, August.
  3. Jordi Gali, 1999. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 249-271, March.
  4. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Lyons, Richard K., 1992. "External effects in U.S. procyclical productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 209-225, April.
  5. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
  6. Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1990. "Inflexible Prices and Procyclical Productivity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(4), pages 851-874.
  7. Hansen, Gary D. & Sargent, Thomas J., 1988. "Straight time and overtime in equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 281-308.
  8. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 183-203.
  9. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 121-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 921-947, October.
  11. Ramey, Valerie A, 1989. "Inventories as Factors of Production and Economic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 338-354, June.
  12. Bils, Mark & Cho, Jang-Ok, 1994. "Cyclical factor utilization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 319-354, April.
  13. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-1297, November.
  14. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
  15. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1996. "Macroeconomic Implications of Variation in the Workweek of Capital," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 79-134.
  16. Kimball, Miles S, 1995. "The Quantitative Analytics of the Basic Neomonetarist Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1241-1277, November.
  17. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1996. "Factor-Hoarding and the Propagation of Business-Cycle Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1154-1174, December.
  18. Finn, Mary G., 1995. "Variance properties of Solow's productivity residual and their cyclical implications," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(5-7), pages 1249-1281.
  19. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-855, December.
  20. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1993. "Dynamic General Equilibrium Models with Imperfectly Competitive Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 4502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Ana M. Aizcorbe & Sharon Kozicki, 1995. "The comovement of output and labor productivity in aggregate data for auto assembly plants," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 245-273, April.
  23. Hall, George J., 1996. "Overtime, effort, and the propagation of business cycle shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 139-160, August.
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