Working Paper No. 415 | November 2004

Measuring Capacity Utilization in OECD Countries

A Cointegration Method

This paper derives measures of potential output and capacity utilization for a number of OECD countries, using a method based on the cointegration relation between output and the capital stock. The intuitive idea is that economic capacity (potential output) is the aspect of output that co-varies with the capital stock over the long run. We show that this notion can be derived from a simple model that allows for a changing capital-capacity ratio in response to partially exogenous, partially embodied, technical change. Our method provides a simple and general procedure for estimating capacity utilization. It also closely replicates a previously developed census-based measure of US manufacturing capacity-utilization. Of particular interest is that our measures of capacity utilization are very different from those based on aggregate production functions, such as the ones provided by the IMF.

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