IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series


  • Valerie A. Ramey
  • Kenneth D. West

We review and interpret recent work on inventories, emphasizing empirical and business cycle aspects. We begin by documenting two empirical regularities about inventories. The first is the well-known one that inventories move procyclically. The second is that inventory movements are quite persistent, even conditional on sales. To consider explanations for the two facts, we present a linear-quadratic model. The model can rationalize the two facts in many ways, but two stylized explanations are simple enough and have support support from a number of papers. Both assume that there are persistent shocks to demand for the good in question, and that marginal production cost slopes up. The first explanation assumes as well that there are highly persistent shocks to the cost of production. The second assumes that there are strong costs of adjusting production and a strong accelerator motive. Research to to date, however, has not reached a consensus on whether one of these two, or some third, alternative provides a satisfactory explanation of inventory behavior. We suggest several directions for future research that promise to improve our understanding of inventory behavior and thus of business cycles.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6315.

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ramey, Valerie A. & West, Kenneth D., 1999. "Inventories," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 863-923 Elsevier.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6315
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6315. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.