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Inventory (Dis)Investment, Internal Finance Fluctuations, and the Business Cycle

Author

Listed:
  • Robert E. Carpenter

    (Emory University)

  • Steven M. Fazzari

    (Washington University and the Jerome Levy Economics Insititute)

  • Bruce C. Petersen

    (Washington University)

Abstract

A well-known but under-emphasized feature of the business cycle is that the flow of internal finance is highly procyclical. We argue that finance constraints lead firms to offset a large proportion of internal finance fluctuations through inventory (dis)investment. We construct three panels of quarterly firm data, each of which contains a large fraction of aggregate inventories and covers a major inventory cycle. Our findings show that the impact of internal finance on inventory investment is greater for small firms than large, consistent with the existence of finance constraints. Internal finance, however, is also economically important for large firms. These results explain part of the large cyclical amplitude of inventory investment. Furthermore, heterogeneity in our results across time, especially between the 1981-82 recession and the 1990-91 recession, helps explain differences in the composition of aggregate investment shortfalls during contractions.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Carpenter & Steven M. Fazzari & Bruce C. Petersen, 1994. "Inventory (Dis)Investment, Internal Finance Fluctuations, and the Business Cycle," Macroeconomics 9401001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9401001
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