Published: Dec 2016

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JEL Reference: E31, E32

Working Paper

Business Cycles, Investment Shocks, and the "Barro-King Curse"

Recent empirical evidence identfi es investment shocks as key driving forces behind business cycle fluctuations. However, existing New Keynesian models emphasizing these shocks counterfactually imply a negative unconditional correlation between consumption growth and investment growth, a weak positive unconditional correlation between consumption growth and output growth and anomalous profi les of cross-correlations involving consumption growth. These anomalies arise because of a short-run contractionary eff ect a positive investment shock on consumption. Such counterfactual co-movements are typical of the "Barro-King curse" (Barro and King 1984), wherein models with a real business cycle core must rely on technology shocks to account for the observed co-movement among output, consumption, investment, and hours. We show that two realistic additions to an otherwise standard medium scale New Keynesian model - namely, roundabout production and real per capita output growth stemming from trend growth in neutral and investment-specifi c technologies - can break the Barro-King curse and provide a more accurate account of unconditional business cycle comovements more generally. These two features substantially magnify the eff ects of neutral technology and investment shocks on aggregate fluctuations and generate a rise of consumption on impact of a positive investment shock.

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Keywords: Investment shocks, Business cycle comovements, Standard household preferences, Monopolistic competition, Wage and price contracting, Intermediate inputs, Trend output growth, Trend inflation