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Jel Classification:E21 

Working Paper
The Effects of Macroeconomic Shocks: Household Financial Distress Matters

When a macroeconomic shock arrives, variation in household balance-sheet health (captured by the presence of financial distress “FD”), leads to differential access to credit, and hence a distribution of consumption responses. As we document, though, over the past two recessions, households in prior FD also experienced macroeconomic shocks more intensely than others, leading to a distribution of shock severity. Quantifying the importance of each dimension of heterogeneity (FD or shock severity) for consumption requires a structural model. We find that heterogeneity in FD matters more than ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-025

Report
How Do Households Respond to Income Shocks?

We use panel data from the Italian Survey of Household Income and Wealth from 1991 to 2016 to document empirically what components of the household budget constraint change in response to shocks to household labor income, both over shorter and over longer horizons. We show that shocks to labor income are associated with negligible changes in transfers and non-labor income components, modest changes in consumption expenditures, and large changes in wealth. We then split the sample in households which do not own business or real estate wealth, and households who do. For the first group, we find ...
Staff Report , Paper 655

Working Paper
Production and Inventory Dynamics under Ambiguity Aversion

We propose a production-cost smoothing model with Knightian uncertainty due to ambiguity aversion to study the joint behavior of production, inventories, and sales. Our model can explain four facts that previous studies find difficult to account for simultaneously: (i) the high volatility of production relative to sales, (ii) the low ratio of inventory-investment volatility to sales volatility, (iii) the positive correlation between sales and inventories, and (iv) the negative correlation between the inventory-to-sales ratio and sales. We find that the stock-out avoidance motive (Kahn 1987) ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 21-05

Journal Article
Negative Sentiment toward Spending and Declining Real Incomes May Meaningfully Lower Consumption

Despite a contraction in real GDP in the first half of 2022, consumer spending has remained resilient. We examine a set of factors that have historically affected consumption growth and find that excess savings have boosted consumer spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as excess savings decline and economic relationships normalize, negative sentiment toward spending and declining real incomes may meaningfully lower consumption.
Economic Bulletin , Issue November 4, 2022 , Pages 4

Working Paper
Taxing top earners: a human capital perspective

We assess the consequences of substantially increasing the marginal tax rate on U.S. top earners using a human capital model. The top of the model Laffer curve occurs at a 53 percent top tax rate. Tax revenues and the tax rate at the top of the Laffer curve are smaller compared to an otherwise similar model that ignores the possibility of skill change in response to a tax reform. We also show that if one applies the methods used by Diamond and Saez (2011) to provide quantitative guidance for setting the tax rate on top earners to model data then the resulting tax rate exceeds the tax rate at ...
Working Papers , Paper 2014-17

Working Paper
Consumption in the Great Recession: The Financial Distress Channel

During the Great Recession, the collapse of consumption across the US varied greatly but systematically with house-price declines. Our message is that household financial health matters for understanding this relationship. Two facts are essential for our finding: (1) the decline in house prices led to an increase in household financial distress (FD) prior to the decline in income during the recession, and (2) at the zip-code level, the prevalence of FD prior to the recession was positively correlated with house-price declines at the onset of the recession. We measure the power of the ...
Working Paper , Paper 19-13

Working Paper
Growth and Welfare Gains from Financial Integration Under Model Uncertainty

We build a robustness (RB) version of the Obstfeld (1994) model to study the effects of financial integration on growth and welfare. Our model can account for the empirically observed heterogeneity in the relationship between growth and volatility for different countries. The calibrated model shows that financial integration leads to significantly larger gains in growth and welfare for advanced countries than developing countries, with some developing countries experiencing growth and welfare loss in financial integration. Our analytical solutions help uncover the key mechanisms by which this ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 18-12

Briefing
The Michigan Surveys of Consumers and consumer spending

We provide summary measures for a broad set of questions from the Michigan Surveys of Consumers. These measures summarize consumers' attitudes and expectations with respect to income, wealth, prices, and interest rates. They contain information that goes beyond the information captured by the Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, which is constructed from five questions in the same survey. We show that the summary measures have some explanatory power for aggregate consumption behavior over the period from 1987 to the present, even when controlling for economic fundamentals. The explanatory ...
Public Policy Brief

Working Paper
Regional Consumption Responses and the Aggregate Fiscal Multiplier

We use regional variation in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009-2012) to analyze the effect of government spending on consumer spending. Our consumption data come from household-level retail purchases in the Nielsen scanner data and auto purchases from Equifax credit balances. We estimate that a $1 increase in county-level government spending increases local non-durable consumer spending by $0.29 and local auto spending by $0.09. We translate the regional consumption responses to an aggregate fiscal multiplier using a multiregional, New Keynesian model with heterogeneous agents, ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2018-04

Report
Business cycle fluctuations and the distribution of consumption

This paper sheds new light on the interactions between business cycles and the consumption distribution. We use Consumer Expenditure Survey data and a factor model to characterize the cyclical dynamics of the consumption distribution. We first establish that our approach is able to closely match business cycle fluctuations of consumption from the National Account. We then study the responses of the consumption distribution to total factor productivity shocks and economic policy uncertainty shocks. Importantly, we find that the responses of the right tail of the consumption distribution, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 716

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