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Jel Classification:E21 

Working Paper
The Rise and Fall of Consumption in the 2000s

U.S. consumption has gone through steep ups and downs since the turn of the millennium, but the causes of these fluctuations are still imperfectly identified. We quantify the relative impact on consumption growth of income, unemployment, house prices, credit scores, debt, expectations, foreclosures, inequality, and refinancings for four subperiods: the ?dot-com recession? (2001-2003), the ?subprime boom? (2004-2006), the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the ?tepid recovery? (2010-2012). We document that the explanatory power of different factors varies by subperiods, implying that a ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1507

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 Nielsen and auto purchases from Equifax credit balances. We estimate that a $1 increase in county-level government spending increases consumer spending by $0.18. We translate the regional consumption responses to an aggregate fiscal multiplier using a multi-region, New Keynesian model with heterogeneous agents and incomplete markets. Our model successfully generates the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2018-4

Working Paper
The credit card debt puzzle: the role of preferences, credit risk, and financial literacy

We use the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to revisit what is termed the credit card debt puzzle: why consumers simultaneously co-hold high-interest credit card debt and low-interest assets that could be used to pay down this debt. This dataset contains unique information on intelligence, financial literacy, and preferences, while also providing a complete picture of households? balance sheets. Relative to individuals with no credit card debt but positive liquid assets, individuals in the puzzle group have higher discount rates, slightly lower financial literacy scores, and very ...
Working Papers , Paper 16-6

Working Paper
The forecasting power of consumer attitudes for consumer spending

The widely studied Reuters/Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment is constructed from the answers to five questions from the more comprehensive Reuters/Michigan Surveys of Consumers. Yet little work has been done on what predictive power the information taken from this more thorough compilation of consumer attitudes and expectations may have for forecasting consumption expenditures. The authors construct a limited set of real-time summary measures for 42 questions selected from these broader Surveys corresponding to three broad economic determinants of consumption?income and wealth, prices, and ...
Working Papers , Paper 14-10

Working Paper
International Credit Markets and Global Business Cycles

This paper stresses a new channel through which global financial linkages contribute to the co-movement in economic activity across countries. We show in a two-country setting with borrowing constraints that international credit markets are subject to self-fulfilling variations in the world real interest rate. Those expectation-driven changes in the borrowing cost in turn act as global shocks that induce strong cross-country co-movements in both financial and real variables (such as asset prices, GDP, consumption, investment and employment). When firms around the world benefit from ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-9

Report
Optimal Monetary Policy According to HANK

We study optimal monetary policy in a heterogeneous agent new Keynesian economy. A utilitarian planner seeks to reduce consumption inequality, in addition to stabilizing output gaps and inflation. The planner does so both by reducing income risk faced by households, and by reducing the pass-through from income to consumption risk, trading off the benefits of lower inequality against productive inefficiency and higher inflation. When income risk is countercyclical, policy curtails the fall in output in recessions to mitigate the increase in inequality. We uncover a new form of time ...
Staff Reports , Paper 916

Working Paper
The Household Expenditure Response to a Consumption Tax Rate Increase

This study measures the effect of an increase in Japan's Value Added Tax rate on the timing of household expenditures and consumption, which do not necessarily coincide. The analysis finds that durable and storable expenditures surged in the month prior to the tax rate increase, fell sharply upon implementation, but quickly returned to their previous long-run levels. Non-storable non-durable expenditures increased slightly in the month prior to the tax rate increase, but were otherwise unresponsive. A dynamic structural model of household consumption reveals that the observed expenditure ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-035

Working Paper
Saving and Wealth Accumulation among Student Loan Borrowers: Implications for Retirement Preparedness

Borrowing for education has increased rapidly in the past several decades, such that the majority of non-housing debt on US households' balance sheets is now student loan debt. This chapter analyzes the implications of student loan borrowing for later-life economic well-being, with a focus on retirement preparation. We demonstrate that families holding student loan debt later in life have less savings than their similarly educated peers without such debt. However, these comparisons are misleading if the goal is to characterize the experience of the typical student borrower, as they fail to ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2022-019

Working Paper
The Nonlinear Effects of Fiscal Policy

We argue that the fiscal multiplier of government purchases is increasing in the spending shock, in contrast to what is assumed in most of the literature. The fiscal multiplier is largest for large positive government spending shocks and smallest for large contractions in government spending. We empirically document this fact using aggregate U.S. data. We find that a neoclassical, life-cycle, incomplete markets model calibrated to match key features of the US economy can explain this empirical finding. The mechanism hinges on the relationship between fiscal shocks, their form of financing, ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-15

Report
Modigliani Meets Minsky: Inequality, Debt, and Financial Fragility in America, 1950-2016

This paper studies the secular increase in U.S. household debt and its relation to growing income inequality and financial fragility. We exploit a new household-level data set that covers the joint distributions of debt, income, and wealth in the United States over the past seven decades. The data show that increased borrowing by middle-class families with low income growth played a central role in rising indebtedness. Debt-to-income ratios have risen most dramatically for households between the 50th and 90th percentiles of the income distribution. While their income growth was low, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 924

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