When occasionally binding capacity constraints limit the production of heterogeneous firms, demand shocks can endogenously generate a number of important business cycle regularities: recessions are deeper than booms are high, firm-level volatility is countercyclical, the aggregate Solow residual is procyclical and the fiscal multiplier is countercyclical. A baseline calibration of a basic New Keynesian DSGE model with capacity constraints shows that this mechanism can explain more than a quarter of the empirically observed asymmetry in output, and matches the cyclicality of firm-level profitability dispersion and of the measured Solow residual. The model implies flucutations in the fiscal multiplier of around 0.12 between expansions and recessions.
Recent research has shown that higher uncertainty — measured as profitability risk across firms — may cause recessions. This paper explores how recessions can cause an endogenous rise in firm risk. If heterogeneous firms face real and financial frictions, then a shock to the mean of aggregate productivity endogenously leads to countercyclical profitability risk through firms' heterogeneous responses in price setting. Additionally, the mechanism endogenously generates countercyclical credit spreads and credit spread dispersion. The model explains a large share of the observed fluctuations in profitability dispersion (69%) and in credit spreads (40%) through fluctuations in aggregate TFP holding productivity risk constant. This suggests that the scope for uncertainty shocks to explain recessions may be smaller than previously thought.
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