International Think-Tank on Innovation and Competition

Innovation and Growth

Foreign Penetration and Undesirable Competition by L. Wang and J. Lee (2013, Economic Modelling).

This paper examines how the order of the firms' moves affects the social efficiency with foreign ownership and endogenous entry in a mixed oligopoly market. The authors firstly show that when the foreign shareholding ratio is low, entry of private followers will lead to a lower consumer welfare and higher social welfare, while the profit of the incumbent nationalized firm is higher under entry than under no entry. Further, they find that there always exists the problem of excessive entry under public leadership regardless of the degree of foreign ownership. Such result is generated by the complementary role played by the leading public firm and the strength of business-stealing effect. These results thus have important implications for industrial and market-opening policies.

Competition, Market Selection and Growth by V. Denicolò and P. Zanchettin (2010, The Economic Journal).

This important paper studies the effect of product market competition on the incentive to innovate and the economy’s rate of growth in an endogenous growth model. The authors extend earlier endogenous growth models by accounting for the possibility that in each period many asymmetric firms (i.e., an endogenously determined number of successive innovators) are simultaneously active. They identify the competition effect, the selection effect, and the front loading of profits associated with a change in competitive pressure. When the intensity of competititon increases, the competition effect reduces the incentive to innovate, but both the front loading of profits and the selection effect raise the incentive to innovate. They demonstrate circumstances in which the selection effect dominates the competition effect. In these circumstances, the front loading of profits and the fact that the selection effect dominates the competition effect make the equilibrium rate of growth increase with the intensity of competition.

Patents in a Model of Growth with Persistent Leadership by C. Kiedaisch (2009).

This paper analyzes the e¤ects of patent policies in a quality - ladder model of growth where incumbent firms preemptively innovate in order to keep their position of leadership. The amount of R&D undertaken by leaders increases if an innovation becomes more valuable to an entrant and policies that make it easier to replace incumbents and to obtain considerable market power right upon entry increase growth. I show that making patent policies conditional on whether an innovation is made by an entrant or an incumbent can increase growth and also analyze the effects of conditioning the strength of patent protecion on the size of the lead. In certain cases, an intermediate probabiltiy of patent enforcement leads to the highest average rate of growth.

Defensive Strategies in the Quality Ladders by I. Ledezma (2009).

This paper analyses the defensive behaviour of successful innovators and its effect on aggregate R&D effort. It roposes a quality-ladders model that endogenously determines leader’s technology advantages and whether the Arrow-replacement e¤ect holds. Regulation can boost aggregate innovative effort, but only after attaining a certain threshold that allows to create a market environment in which deterring reactions are limited. These predictions are consistent with data on manufacturing industries of 14 OECD countries between 1987-2003.

Energy Taxes and Endogenous Technological Change by P. Peretto (2009, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management)

This paper studies the effects of a tax on energy use in a growth model where market structure is endogenous and jointly determined with the rate of technological change. Because this economy does not exhibit the scale effect (a positive relation between TFP growth and aggregate R&D), the tax has no effect on the steady-state growth rate. It has, however, important transitional effects that give rise to surprising results. Specifically, under the plausible assumption that energy demand is inelastic, there exists a hump-shaped relation between the energy tax and welfare. This shape stems from the fact that the reallocation of resources from energy production to manufacturing triggers a temporary acceleration of TFP growth that generates a X-shaped time profile of consumption. If endogenous technological change raises consumption sufficiently fast and by a sufficient amount in the long run, the tax raises welfare despite the fact that (in line with standard intuition) it lowers consumption in the short run.

Leadership Cycles by V. Denicolò and P. Zanchettin (January 2009)

The authors study a quality-ladder model of endogenous growth in which neither leaders nor outsiders are precluded from innovating. The model generates stochastic leadership cycles in which incumbents can innovate several successive times, gradually increasing the magnitude of their technological lead before being replaced by a new entrant. Initially, the incumbent is eager to enlarge his lead and does much of the research. However, if he is lucky enough to innovate repeatedly, after each successive innovationhis profits increase. As a result, his propensity to invest in R&D decreases until he is eventually overtaken with probability one and a new cycle starts.

Growth Leaders by F. Etro (September 2008, Journal of Macroeconomics).

This article presents a Schumpeterian model where the engine of growth is in the microeconomic structure of the patent races. Under decreasing marginal productivity and endogenous entry in the R&D sector, the equilibrium is characterized by small firms investing too little and the growth process is dynamically inefficient; the optimal policy for innovation always implies R&D subsidies. When the incumbent monopolists are leaders in patent races with endogenous entry, they engage in larger R&D investment and their persistent leadership enhances growth. In a multicountry setup, growth is driven by innovations in the largest country and increases with its relative size and openness. Finally, the article derives the optimal R&D subsidy from the point of view of a single country, and provide a new case for international coordination of R&D policies.

The Manhattan Methaphor by P. Peretto and M. Connolly (2007, Journal of Economic Growth).

Fixed operating costs draw a sharp distinction between models of endogenous growth based on horizontal and vertical innovation. Specifically, steady-state growth driven by product proliferation cannot occur if production of each good entails a fixed cost. As a consequence, only the vertical dimension can generate steady-state endogenous growth since progress along the quality or cost ladder does not require the replication of fixed costs. We discuss the general implications of this line of thinking for models of endogenous growth that incorporate population growth. We note that the literature does not consider natural limits to population expansion, which — in contrast — are at the heart of our argument concerning product proliferation. We thus argue that a sensible model of perpetual growth should feature vertical growth and constant population.

Energy Taxes and Endogenous Technological Change by P. Peretto (2007)

This paper studies the effects of a tax on energy use in a growth model where market structure is endogenous and jointly determined with the rate of technological change. Because this economy does not exhibit the scale effect (a positive relation between TFP growth and aggregate R&D), the tax has no effect on the steady-state growth rate. It has, however, important transitional effects that give rise to surprising results. Specifically, under the plausible assumption that energy demand is inelastic, there exists a hump-shaped relation between the energy tax and welfare. This shape stems from the fact that the reallocation of resources from energy production to manufacturing triggers a temporary acceleration of TFP growth that generates a X-shaped time profile of consumption. If endogenous technological change raises consumption sufficiently fast and by a sufficient amount in the long run, the tax raises welfare despite the fact that — in line with standard intuition — it lowers consumption in the short run.

Intel Economics by P. Segerstrom (2007, International Economic Review)

In 1968, engineers Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce left Fairchild, one of the largest semiconductor corporations in Silicon Valley, to found their own start-up company Intel. Initially, Intel made custom memory chips, but in trying to develop some custom circuits for the Japanese calculator manufacturer Busicom, engineers at Intel made a remarkable discovery. They succeeded in imitating at the chip level the architecture of computers by developing a general purpose programable chip. The Intel 4004 chip introduced in 1971 was the world’s first microprocessor and maybe the most significant innovation of the 20th century.

The engineers at Intel did not rest on their past accomplishments but immediately went to work on developing more complex and powerful microprocessors. Whereas the Intel 4004 chip contained only 2,300 transistors, the Intel 8080 introduced in 1974 contained 6,000 transistors and was 10 times as powerful as the 4004. The Intel 8080 was in turn followed by the 8086, 286, 386, 486, Pentium and Itanium chips. From 1971 to the present, the number of transistors on an Intel chip has roughly doubled every 2 years, a trend known as “Moore’s Law”. Intel microprocessor performance, measured in MIPS (millions of instructions per second), has roughly doubled every 18 months and Intel’s stock market value has also increased dramatically over time. Maintaining this pace of innovation, however, has not been easy. Intel has found that developing faster microprocessors becomes progressively more difficult over time. It took a team of only 4 engineers to develop the relatively simple Intel 4004 chip in 1971 and most of the work was done by Federico Faggin. In contrast, a team of 20 engineers was involved in designing the considerably more complex Intel 8086 chip in 1978. Intel R&D expenditures have increased dramatically over time, reaching $3.9 billion in the year 2000.

The goal of this paper is to develop a model of endogenous growth that is roughly consistent with the above-mentioned Intel story. Although Intel is clearly an outlier among high-tech firms in that it has been unusually successful in its R&D activities, Intel nevertheless represents a convenient symbol for high-tech firms in general and the issues studied in this paper have broad applicability. The model has three key properties. First, industry leaders invest in R&D to improve their own products. Intel has focused on developing faster chips and has repeatedly innovated over time. Second, small firms invest in R&D to become industry leaders. When Intel discovered the world’s first microprocessor back in 1971, it was a small firm with just a few employees. Empirical studies reveal that both small and large firms play important roles in contributing to technological change. For example, according to Scherer (1984, chap. 11), companies with fewer than 1,000 employees were responsible for 47.3 percent of important innovations and companies with over 10,000 employees were responsible for 34.5 percent of important innovations. Besides the microprocessor, other innovations that have been introduced by small firms include air conditioning, the audio tape recorder, biomagnetic imaging, the digital X-ray, DNA fingerprinting, the FM radio, the hydraulic brake, the integrated circuit, the personal computer, soft contact lens and the vacuum tube (see “Business Innovation,” The Economist, April 24-30, 2004, p. 75-77). Third, innovating becomes progressively more difficult over time. Intel has been forced to increase its R&D expenditures dramatically over time just to maintain a roughly constant innovation rate because the problems its researchers have wrestled with have been getting progressively harder. And Intel’s experience with increasing R&D difficulty appears to be widely shared. At the aggregate level, the number of scientists and engineers engaged in R&D has increased dramatically over time without generating any upward trend in economic growth rates, and the patents-per-researcher ratio has declined significantly over time in many countries.

Along the steady-state equilibrium path, the value of an industry leader jumps up every time the firm innovates and develops a higher quality product. Firms that are unusually successful in innovating achieve unusually high stockmarket values. The value of an industry leader also jumps down when its product is copied by another firm. Thus, the model can account for not only Intel’s rise in stockmarket value (third highest in the world at the end of 1998) but also Intel’s more recent fall in stockmarket value (with Advanced Micro Devices developing a substitute line of microprocessors). Turning to welfare implications, I also solve for the R&D subsidy/tax policy that maximizes the discounted utility of the representative household. When there is no copying by firms of other firms’ products, it is unambiguously optimal to tax R&D activities. However, allowing for imitation reverses this finding. For plausible parameter values, I find that it is optimal to heavily subsidize R&D.

Competition, Darwinian Selection and Growth by V. Denicolò and P. Zanchettin (2006).

This important paper studies the effect of product market competition on the incentive to innovate and the economy’s rate of growth in an endogenous growth model. The authors extend earlier endogenous growth models by accounting for the possibility that in each period many asymmetric firms (i.e., an endogenously determined number of successive innovators) are simultaneously active. They identify the competition effect, the selection effect, and the front loading of profits associated with a change in competitive pressure. When the intensity of competititon increases, the competition effect reduces the incentive to innovate, but both the front loading of profits and the selection effect raise the incentive to innovate. They demonstrate circumstances in which the selection effect dominates the competition effect. In these circumstances, the front loading of profits and the fact that the selection effect dominates the competition effect make the equilibrium rate of growth increase with the intensity of competition.

ICT and Productivity Resurgence: a growth model for the Information Age by F. Venturini (2006, The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics).

Since the mid-1990s, extraordinary advances in semiconductors have enhanced the embodied nature of information technology, fuelling efficiency growth in computers and communication equipment industries. The consequent fall in prices has enabled the rapid diffusion of these new technologies, which have then reached the critical threshold to foster productivity growth. In light of the recent growth pattern of the United States, this paper presents a model where the endogenous engine of development is the learning-by-doing process stemming from the usage of ICT for investment and consumption. Based on a two-sector framework (`a la Whelan) that distinguishes between ICT-producers and -users, the model yields a sound representation of the stylized facts of the Information Age.

The Engine of Growth by F. Etro (2006) .

The search for profits is what provides the incentives to invest and ultimately drives the economy. The new growth theory has exploited this old Schumpeterian idea to formalize the link between innovation and long run growth. This paper tries to open the ``black box'' of the engine of growth, investigating its microeconomic organization in a more general and realistic way and examining the impact on investments in innovation of important factors like R&D policy, other sources of growth, globalization and monetary policy. This allows to derive a number of new empirical predictions on the determinants of long run growth.

In the endogenous growth literature, investments for innovations are usually described in a very simple and empirically arguable way: the production function of new ideas is characterized by constant marginal productivity and a simple no-arbitrage condition pins down the equilibrium investment and, consequently, the rate of economic growth. This minimalistic approach does not allow to characterize the number and size of the firms investing in R&D, the relation between incumbent patentholders and outsiders and the effect of realistic R\&D policies.

As noticed in many empirical works, investments in R&D are characterized by relevant fixed costs, decreasing marginal productivity at the firm level. One of the stilyzed facts is that the number of patents and innovations per dollar of R&D decreases with the level of R\&D and this is well grounded empirically and wasteful duplications of resources between firms due to congestion reasons at the industry level. Hence, the work introduces fully fledged patent races with the first two features in a Schumpeterian model and derives the drastic consequences associated with the inefficiency in the market for innovation. Its organization is characterized by a bias toward small firms investing too little in R&D. This inefficiency is amplified in the growth process, which becomes dynamically inefficient, in the sense that a country could increase its long run growth without reducing current consumption or viceversa increase consumption without reducing growth. Hence, contrary to the ambiguous results in the literature, the optimal R&D policy implies always R\&D subsidization.

Another important stylized fact about R&D investment is that a large part of it is done by dominant firms producing with the leading edge technologies. Nevertheless, in the Schumpeterian growth literature investment is undertaken just by outsiders, because, according to the socalled Arrow effect, incumbent monopolists do not have incentives to engage in R&D activities. This paper provides a rationale for investment by the patentholders based on their leadership and free entry in sequential patent races. Moreover, it applies this idea to develop a model of growth driven by market leaders and provides new dynamic programming techniques to solve analytically for the value of technological leadership. Endogenous investment by incumbent patentholders leads to persistence of monopolies which in turn increases the value of developing a new technology: this is not just the value of the corresponding flow of profits (as traditionally in the literature), but that one plus the option value to a persistent monopolistic position. This new element increases the incentives to invest and hence it speeds up the growth process. In particular, when marginal productivity of R&D is constant or close to constant, monopolists deter entry in the patent race remaining the only innovators. In a recent paper, Segerstrom (2005) has developed a model where incumbent monopolists invest in R&D because they can use a different innovation technology than the one adopted by the other firms. This approach basically assumes cost advantages in the innovation activity for the monopolists and allows to study their persistence, but it does not explain its ultimate source. This characterization of growth driven by dominant firms may help to explain the persistence of technological leadership especially for large corporations in high-tech sectors.

The framework developed in this paper allows to explore how different factors and policies can affect the engine of growth, including international and monetary factors. For instance, augmenting the model with another generic source of growth (hich may just be a traditional exogenous technological progress or it may be microfounded in some endogenous way) allows to show a surprising result: an increase in growth due to other sources may reduce the incentives to innovate. Consequently, even if innovation is the main engine of growth (in the sense that it actually contributes to most of the growth rate), growth and investment in innovation may be negatively correlated (over time or across countries). This happens because the increase in the interest rate associated with higher growth may crowd out some firms from the innovation sector: this happens when the intertemporal elasticity of substitution is low enough. This suggests that empirical testing of Schumpeterian growth theories should not look at the simple correlation between growth and R&D investment, but they should be able to separate the direct positive effect of innovation on growth from the feedback effect of growth on innovation.

Population Growth in a Model of Economic Growth with Human Capital Accumulation and Horizontal R&D by A. Bucci (2006).

This paper reconsiders the effects of population growth on per-capita income growth within a Romerian (1990)-type endogenous growth model with human capital accumulation. One important novelty of our contribution is that in the human capital accumulation equation we explicitly consider the possibility that agents’ investment in skill acquisition might be positively, negatively or not influenced at all by technological progress. We find that both the growth rate and the level of real per-capita income are independent of population size. Moreover, population growth may affect or not real per-capita income growth depending on the size of the degree of altruism of agents towards future generations and on the nature of technical progress, for given agents’ degree of altruism.

Growth with Non-Drastic Innovations and the Persistence of Leadership by V. Denicolò (2001, European Economic Review).

In early models of endogenous growth with quality ladders the current technological leader does no research and is systematically replaced by outsiders. This pattern of leapfrogging is evidently unrealistic. Not only do incumbents often maintain their market shares for a long time; there is also ample evidence that they tend to account for much of the research done, either performing it directly in-house or else, indirectly, acquiring intellectual property rights from independent inventors.

Previous attempts to explain the persistence of leadership either assume that the leader is more efficient than outsiders in conducting the research or posit that customers’ loyalty guarantees the leader cheaper distribution channels. This paper develops an explanation that differs from previous ones assuming that the leader has no cost advantage over outsiders. In addition, and perhaps more interestingly, the persistence of leadership is beneficial to growth.

These results depend on two key assumptions. First, the leader has a move advantage in the next patent race. Second, innovations are incremental, i.e. non-drastic. The first assumption is natural, since outsiders are likely to learn of the latest innovation only with some delay. The second assumption squares well with a stylized fact that emerges from many empirical studies, namely that incumbents are likely to dominate incremental innovations, while more radical technical changes tend to be associated with the entry of new firms. The intuition behind persistence is as follows. Under free-entry by outsiders, the zero-profit condition fully determines aggregate R&D investment. Taking aggregate R&D effort as given, the leader perceives that the expected timing of the next innovation is independent of his own R&D effort. In appraising the incentive to innovate he thus neglects current profit, just as outsiders do. This means that Arrow’s replacement effect vanishes. Since the leader, unlike outsiders, can engage in monopoly pricing with no fear of being displaced, he will value the next innovation higher than outsiders. As a result, he has a greater incentive to innovate and will pre-empt outsiders (Gilbert and Newbery, 1982).

This reasoning produces an important collateral result: under persistent leadership, the value of being leader exceeds current monopoly profit, for the move advantage assures the leader of extra-profits in the subsequent patent races despite free entry by outsiders. This extra-profit positively affects the incentive to innovate. Thus in this model the persistence of monopoly leads to higher growth rates. By contrast, previous explanations of persistent leadership tend to predict a negative effect on growth.

Multi-Product Firms, R&D and Growth by A. Minniti (2006, The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics)

This paper develops a General Equilibrium model of endogenous growth based on R&D that extends the Dixit-Stiglitz framework of product differentiation to allow for multi-product firms and strategic interactions. On the demand side, we consider a nested CES utility function for the differentiated products; on the supply side, instead, firms choose the size of their product range (the level of product proliferation) and engage in process innovation (in-house R&D) in order to lower their production costs. Firms compete in the product market under the Bertrand mode of competition by fixing the prices of the varieties produced; technological progress is measured by the average rate of cost reduction. The mass of firms and the number of varieties per firm jointly characterize market structure and are endogenously determined in equilibrium together with the rate of economic growth. In the normative analysis of the model, we find out that the market equilibrium involves too many firms (over-entry) and too few products per firm (too narrow product range) with respect to the Social Optimum. In addition, the total number of product varieties is inefficiently low and there is insufficient growth under laissez-faire. The magnitude of these distortions is endogenous and depends on the number of competitors in the industry; as this becomes very large, the market equilibrium approaches asymptotically the Social Optimum. Decentralization of the first-best Social Optimum thus requires subsidies to promote the creation of product varieties and R&D activities by individual firms; in addition, an entry fee increasing the cost of entry is welfare improving.

International Competition, Growth, and Optimal R&D Subsidies by G. Impullitti (2006).

This paper examines the effects of international technological competition on innovation, growth, and optimal R&D subsidies. It focuses on a particular dimension of competition: the share of industries where domestic and foreign research firms compete for innovation. In a version of the fully-endogenous quality-ladder growth model the author shows that the effect of competition on innovation and growth depends on the specification of the research technology. Secondly, the author finds that increases in foreign competition trigger a business-stealing effect that reduces income and welfare and, regardless of the innovation effect, raises the optimal domestic R&D subsidy. Intuitively, the higher the threat of international competition the more instrumental innovation subsidies will be in helping domestic incumbent firms to retain their shares of the global market. Thirdly, it performs a quantitative exercise: first the author builds an empirical index of international technological competition and finds that in the OECD countries the share of competitive sectors increased from 35 percent in 1973 to 70 percent in 1989. Then, using this evidence to evaluate the optimality of the U.S. R&D subsidy response to observed competition in that period, the paper finds a welfare loss of the observed policy, relative to the optimal, ranging between 0.2 and 0.5 percentage points of quality-adjusted per-capita consumption. Finally, it extends the model to account for strategic policy complementarities and show that the positive effect of competition on the optimal subsidy is robust to this set up. In addition, competition increases the benefits from R&D policy cooperation.

Innovation, Patent Races and Endogenous Growth by J. Zeira (2005)

This paper presents a model of innovations and economic growth, in which patent races emerge as a result of two assumptions: R&D is directed toward specific innovations, and the cost of innovation increases with distance from the technology frontier. The paper then examines the effects of these assumptions on growth, welfare, and the market structure of R&D. There are three main results to the paper. First, the effect of scale on growth is significantly reduced. Second, R&D is Pareto-inefficient, as there is too much search for easy innovations, and too little search for difficult ones. Third, risk aversion leads to concentration of R&D in few firms, which reduces growth and increases duplication.

Schumpeterian Growth and the Political Economy of Employment Protection by W.-H. Grieben (2005, Journal of Economics).

This paper analyzes the differing attitudes concerning political support for employment protection between skilled and unskilled workers in a quality-ladder growth model. Creative destruction through innovation results in "Schumpeterian unemployment" of unskilled workers. By voting on firing costs, unskilled workers consider a trade-off between the benefit of fewer unemployment spells and the cost of lower quality growth of consumer goods. Skilled workers, although not threatened by unemployment, may vote for even larger firing costs. Alleviating one labor market rigidity by increasing the matching efficiency between firms and unskilled workers aggravates another rigidity by creating political support for additional firing costs.

Oligopolistic Cost Innovation, Stock Markets, and Macroeconomic Development by C. Koulovatianos (2005).

This study investigates the strategic supply and investment behavior of oligopolistic firms in a dynamic general equilibrium framework. By investing in innovations, firms can reduce future production costs. A knowledge spillover enhances the effectiveness of firm investments. Depending on Cournot-type strategic incentives in the oligopolistic market and on general-equilibrium responses of other markets to firms’ choices, firms may choose higher investment ratios, and boost dividend- and industry growth. Households, observing stock-value trends, adjust their investment in firmstocks. In such an economic environment, oligopolistic incentives and choices play a leading role, and the oligopolistic concentration of market power influences critically both industry- and economy-wide growth. Depending on consumer preferences, the model yields an inverse-U relationship between product-market competition, with innovation and growth. Moreover, the model predicts massive short-run rational reactions of stock prices to permanent unexpected entry or exit of firms.

 

 

Special Interests and Technological Change by G. Bellettini and G. Ottaviano (2005, Review of Economic Studies).

This paper studies an OLG economy where productivity growth comes from two alternative sources: process innovation and learning-by-doing. There is a trade-off between the two in so far as frequent technological updates reduce the scope for learning on existing technologies. A conflict is shown to arise between the young and the old, because the former favour innovation while the latter prefer learning. The interaction between overlapping generations and policy makers is described as a dynamic common agency problem, where competing generations invest a certain amount of resources to lobby either for the maintenance of the current technology or the adoption of a new one. By focusing on truthful Markov perfect equilibria, the paper characterizes the political equilibrium and show its dependence on the underlying demographic, technological and preference parameters.

Competition and Innovation: An Inverted-U Relationship by P. Aghion, N. Bloom, R. Blundell, R. Griffith and P. Howitt (2005, Quartely Journal of Economics).

This paper investigates the relationship between product market competition and innovation and finds strong evidence of an inverted-U relationship using panel data. The authors develop a model where competition discourages laggard firms from innovating but encourages neck-and-neck firms to innovate. Together with the effect of competition on the equilibrium industry structure, these generate an inverted-U. Two additional predictions of the model, that the average technological distance between leaders and followers increases with competition, and that the inverted-U is steeper when industries are more neck-and-neck, are both supported by the data.

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Animal spirits and the composition of innovation by G. Cozzi (2005, European Economic Review).

This paper shows that the Schumpeterian model with both vertical and horizontal innovative research admits many more equilibria than the unique symmetric balanced growth path (BGP) usually highlighted in the literature. Each of a continuum of BGPs is characterized by a different composition of aggregate R&D (vertical versus horizontal).This appears if firms expect self-fulfilling "waves of enthusiasm" in the newly introduced sectors, as is very common in the real world. Pioneers are challenged by more outsiders and the first monopoly of every new good is likely to last less than in more mature industries: By expecting this horizontal innovation is depressed while vertical innovation is more intense. Such "waves of enthusiasm" have a positive effect on growth rates and a negative effect on consumption levels.

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