Steffen Elstner

German Council of Economic Experts
Statistisches Bundesamt
65180 Wiesbaden

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2013Time-Varying Business Volatility and the Price Setting of Firms
with Ruediger Bachmann, Benjamin Born, Christian Grimme: w19180
Does time-varying business uncertainty/volatility affect the price setting of firms and, if so, in what way? To address this question, we estimate from the firm-level micro data of the German ifo Business Climate Survey the impact of idiosyncratic volatility on the extensive margin of the price setting behavior of firms. We find that heightened business uncertainty increases the probability of a price change, which suggests that, for price setting, the volatility effect dominates the “wait-and-see” effect of uncertainty. In a second step, we use structural VAR models to estimate the effects of time-varying business uncertainty on the intensive pricing margin. We find that higher business uncertainty leads to both an increase in price dispersion and in the average size of absolute price cha...
April 2013Firms' Optimism and Pessimism
with Rüdiger Bachmann: w18989
Are firms' expectations systematically too optimistic or too pessimistic? Does it matter? We use micro data from the West German manufacturing subset of the IFO Business Climate Survey to infer quarterly production changes at the firm level and combine them with production expectations over a quarterly horizon in the same survey to construct series of quantitative firm-specific expectation errors. We find that depending on the details of the empirical strategy at least 6 percent and at most 34 percent of firms systematically over- or underpredict their one-quarter-ahead upcoming production. In a simple neoclassical heterogeneous-firm model these expectational biases lead to factor misallocations that cause welfare losses which in the worst case are comparable to conventional estimates of t...

Published: Bachmann, Rüdiger & Elstner, Steffen, 2015. "Firm optimism and pessimism," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 297-325. citation courtesy of

June 2010Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data
with Ruediger Bachmann, Eric R. Sims: w16143
What is the impact of time-varying business uncertainty on economic activity? Using partly confidential business survey data from the U.S. and Germany in structural VARs, we find that positive innovations to business uncertainty lead to prolonged declines in economic activity. In contrast, their high-frequency impact is small. We find no evidence of the "wait-and-see"-effect - large declines of economic activity on impact and subsequent fast rebounds - that the recent literature associates with positive uncertainty shocks. Rather, positive innovations to business uncertainty have effects similar to negative business confidence innovations. Once we control for their low-frequency effect, we find little statistically or economically significant impact of uncertainty innovations on activity. ...

Published: R?diger Bachmann & Steffen Elstner & Eric R. Sims, 2013. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 217-49, April. citation courtesy of

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