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School of Economics and Finance

No. 909: Uncertainty, Intangible Capital, and Productivity Dynamics

Edoardo Palombo , Queen Mary University of London

June 25, 2020

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Following an unparalleled rise in uncertainty over the Great Recession, the US economy has been experiencing anaemic productivity growth. This paper offers a quantitative study on the link between uncertainty and low productivity growth. Firstly, using micro level data I show that uncertainty accounts for half of the drop in intangible capital stock during the Great Recession. Secondly, to investigate the effect of uncertainty on productivity growth dynamics, I present a novel general equilibrium endogenous growth model with heterogeneous firms that undertake intangible capital investment subject to non-convex costs and time-varying uncertainty. I show that uncertainty can generate slow recoveries and a persistent slowdown in productivity growth when accounting for the empirical discrepancy between the realised and expected changes to the second-moment of fundamentals.

J.E.L classification codes: O40, O41, O51

Keywords:Uncertainty, R&D, Innovation, Productivity, Great Recession, Intangible Capital, Slow Recoveries

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