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Precautionary Saving and Consumption Smoothing across Time and Possibilities

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  • MILES KIMBALL
  • PHILIPPE WEIL

Abstract

This paper examines how aversion to risk and aversion to intertemporal substitution determine the strength of the precautionary saving motive in a two-period model with Selden/Kreps-Porteus preferences. For small risks, we derive a measure of the strength of the precautionary saving motive that generalizes the concept of "prudence" introduced by Kimball (1990b). For large risks, we show that decreasing absolute risk aversion guarantees that the precautionary saving motive is stronger than risk aversion, regardless of the elasticity of intertemporal substitution. Holding risk preferences fixed, the extent to which the precautionary saving motive is stronger than risk aversion increases with the elasticity of intertemporal substitution. We derive sufficient conditions for a change in risk preferences alone to increase the strength of the precautionary saving motive and for the strength of the precautionary saving motive to decline with wealth. Within the class of constant elasticity of intertemporal substitution, constant-relative risk aversion utility functions, these conditions are also necessary. Copyright (c) 2009 The Ohio State University.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (03)
Pages: 245-284

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Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:41:y:2009:i:2-3:p:245-284

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Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-2879

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  1. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini Jr., 1997. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 596, David K. Levine.
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  7. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Alberto Giovannini & Philippe Weil, 1989. "Risk Aversion and Intertemporal Substitution in the Capital Asset Pricing Model," NBER Working Papers 2824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  18. Robert B. Barsky & N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1987. "Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities," NBER Working Papers 1400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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