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An Empirical Model of Inventory Investment by Durable Commodity Intermediaries

  • George Hall

    (Yale University)

  • John Rust

    (Yale University)

We present a new detailed data set of high-frequency observations on inventory investment by a U.S. steel wholesaler. Our analysis of the data leads to six main conclusions: orders and sales are made infrequently; orders are more volatile than sales; order sizes vary considerably; there is considerable day-to-day variability in sales prices; inventory/sales ratios are unstable; and there are occasional stockouts. We model the firm generically as a durable commodity intermediary. We demonstrate that the firm's behavior at the product level is well approximated by an optimal trading strategy derived from a multi-dimensional nonlinear dynamic programming problem with continuous state and control variables which are subject to frequently binding inequality constraints. We show that the optimal trading strategy takes the form of a generalized (S,s) rule in which the (S,s) bands are decreasing functions of the spot price. We simulate a calibrated version of this model, and show that the simulated data exhibit the key features of inventory investment we observe in our data.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9904005.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 12 Apr 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9904005
Note: TeX file, Postscript version submitted, 40 pages
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Deaton, A. & Laroque, G., 1989. "On The Behavior Of Commodity Prices," Papers 145, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  2. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 1996. "(S, s) inventory policies in general equilibrium," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Ray C. Fair, 1989. "The Production Smoothing Model Is Alive and Well," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 896, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Ramey, Valerie A, 1991. "Nonconvex Costs and the Behavior of Inventories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 306-34, April.
  5. Kahn, James A, 1992. "Why Is Production More Volatile Than Sales? Theory and Evidence on the Stockout-Avoidance Motive for Inventory-Holding," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 481-510, May.
  6. Mark Bils & James A. Kahn, 1999. "What inventory behavior tells us about business cycles," Staff Reports 92, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Blinder, Alan S, 1986. "More on the Speed of Adjustment in Inventory Models," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(3), pages 355-65, August.
  8. George J. Hall, 1997. "Non-Convex Costs and Capital Utilization: A Study of Production Scheduling at Automobile Assembly Plants," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1169, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Inventories, Stock-Outs and Production Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 283-93, April.
  10. Eichenbaum, Martin, 1989. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Production Level and Production Cost Smoothing Models of Inventory Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 853-64, September.
  11. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1989. "Seasonality, Cost Shocks, and the Production Smoothing Model of Inventories," NBER Working Papers 2360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1988. "Production, Sales, and the Change in Inventories: An Identity That Doesn`t Add Up," NBER Working Papers 2765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. John Rust & Joseph Traub & Henryk Wozniakowski, 1999. "No Curse of Dimensionality for Contraction Fixed Points Even in the Worst Case," Computational Economics 9902001, EconWPA.
  14. Alan S. Blinder, 1984. "Can The Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," NBER Working Papers 1257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Valerie A. Ramey & Kenneth D. West, 1997. "Inventories," NBER Working Papers 6315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • 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.
  16. Eichenbaum, Martin S., 1984. "Rational expectations and the smoothing properties of inventories of finished goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 71-96, July.
  17. John Rust, 1997. "Using Randomization to Break the Curse of Dimensionality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 487-516, May.
  18. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Valerie A. Ramey, 1992. "Output Fluctuations at the Plant Level," NBER Working Papers 4105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
  20. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1983. "The Production and Inventory Behavior of the American Automobile Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 365-400, June.
  21. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
  22. John Rust, 1997. "A Comparison of Policy Iteration Methods for Solving Continuous-State, Infinite-Horizon Markovian Decision Problems Using Random, Quasi-random, and Deterministic Discretizations," Computational Economics 9704001, EconWPA.
  23. Martin Feldstein & Alan Auerbach, 1976. "Inventory Behavior in Durable-Goods Manufacturing: The Target-Adjustment Model," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 351-408.
  24. West, Kenneth D, 1986. "A Variance Bounds Test of the Linear Quadratic Inventory Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 374-401, April.
  25. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521326162 is not listed on IDEAS
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