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Investment Shocks and the Comovement Problem

  • John Tsoukala
  • Hashmat Khan

Recent work based on sticky price-wage estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models suggests investment shocks are the most important drivers of post-World War II US business cycles. Consumption, however, typically falls after an investment shock. This finding sits oddly with the observed business cycle co- movement where consumption, along with hours-worked and investment, moves with economic activity. We show that this comovement problem is resolved in an estimated DSGE model when (i) the cost of capital utilization is specified in terms of increased depreciation of capital, as originally proposed by Greenwood et al. (1988) in a neo- classical setting, or (ii) there is no wealth effect on labor supply. The data, however, favours the first channel. Traditionally, the cost of utilization is specified in terms of forgone consumption following Christiano et al. (2005), who studied the effects of monetary policy shocks. The alternative specification we consider has two additional implications relative to the traditional one: (i) it has a substantially better t with the data and (ii) the contribution of investment shocks to the variance of consumption is over three times larger. The contributions to output, investment, and hours, are also relatively higher, suggesting that these shocks may be quantitatively even more important than previous estimates based on the traditional specification.

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Paper provided by University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM) in its series Discussion Papers with number 10/09.

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