Macroeconomic Volatility in General Equilibrium

Peter J. Wilcoxen and Warwick J. McKibbin
Warwick McKibbin
Warwick J. McKibbin Former expert - Economic Studies, Center on Regulation and Markets, Distinguished Professor of Economics & Public Policy - Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University

July 1, 1998


In this paper we explore the concept of excess volatility in general equilibrium. We show there is a fundamental tension between household efforts to smooth consumption and attempts by firms to smooth investment in the presence of convex adjustment costs in capital formation. Adjustment costs substantially diminish the ability of households to smooth consumption. As a result, consumption volatilty will be significantly higher in the presence of adjustment costs than would be expected from the permanent income model alone. Moreover adjustment costs can cause consumption and asset prices to change discontiuously at the moment of implementation of a previously anticipated event, a phenomenon that does not occur in models without adjustment costs.