Working Paper

The Economic Effects of Firm-Level Uncertainty: Evidence Using Subjective Expectations

Abstract: This paper uses over two decades of Italian survey data on business managers' expectations to measure subjective firm-level uncertainty and quantify its economic effects. We document that firm-level uncertainty persists for a few years and varies across firms' demographic characteristics. Uncertainty induces long-lasting economic effects over a broad array of real and financial variables. The source of uncertainty matters with firms responding only to downside uncertainty, that is, uncertainty about future adverse outcomes. Economy-wide uncertainty, constructed aggregating firm-level uncertainty, is countercyclical but uncorrelated with typical proxies in the literature, and accounts for a sizable amount of GDP variation during crises.

Keywords: Uncertainty; Business cycles; Investment; Expectations; Cash holdings; Downside uncertainty;

JEL Classification: D24; E22; E24;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)

Part of Series: International Finance Discussion Papers

Publication Date: 2021-06-28

Number: 1320