Discussion paper

DP10587 Large Firm Dynamics and the Business Cycle

Do large firm dynamics drive the business cycle? We answer this question by developing a quantitative theory of aggregate fluctuations caused by firm-level disturbances alone. We show that a standard heterogeneous firm dynamics setup already contains in it a theory of the business cycle, without appealing to aggregate shocks. We offer a complete analytical characterization of the law of motion of the aggregate state in this class of models ? the firm size distribution ? and show that the resulting closed form solutions for aggregate output and productivity dynamics display: (i) persistence, (ii) volatility and (iii) time-varying second moments. We explore the key role of moments of the firm size distribution ? and, in particular, the role of large firm dynamics ? in shaping aggregate fluctuations, theoretically, quantitatively and in the data.


Carvalho, V and B Grassi (2015), ‘DP10587 Large Firm Dynamics and the Business Cycle‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 10587. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10587