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The Time-Series Properties of Aggregate Consumption: Implications for the Costs of Fluctuations

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  • Ricardo Reis

Abstract

The properties of the stochastic process followed by aggregate consumption affect the estimates of the costs of fluctuations. This paper pursues two approaches to modeling consumption dynamics and measuring how much society dislikes fluctuations, one statistical and one economic. The statistical approach estimates the properties of consumption and calculates the costs of having consumption fluctuating around its mean growth. The paper finds that persistence is a crucial determinant of the costs and that the high persistence in the data severely distorts conventional measures. It shows how to compute valid estimates and confidence intervals. The economic approach uses a calibrated model of optimal consumption and measures the costs of eliminating income shocks. This uncovers a further cost of uncertainty, through its impact on precautionary savings and investment. The two approaches lead to costs of fluctuations that are higher than the common wisdom, between 0.5% and 5% of per capita consumption. (JEL: E32, E21, E60) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (06)
Pages: 722-753

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:7:y:2009:i:4:p:722-753

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Cited by:
  1. Mauricio A. Hernández & Munir A. Jalil B. & Carlos Esteban Posada, 2005. "El costo de los ciclos económicos en Colombia: una nueva Estimación," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002478, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  2. Pagel, Michaela, 2012. "Expectations-Based Reference-Dependent Preferences and Asset Pricing," MPRA Paper 47933, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Wang, Peng-fei & Wen, Yi, 2011. "Volatility, growth, and welfare," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1696-1709, October.
  4. Massimiliano De Santis, 2007. "Individual Consumption Risk and the Welfare Cost of Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1488-1506, September.
  5. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2006. "Openness, Volatility and the Risk Content of Exports," 2006 Meeting Papers 86, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Pengfei Wang & Yi Wen, 2007. "Endogenous volatility, endogenous growth, and large welfare gains from stabilization policies," Working Papers 2006-032, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  7. Claudia Buch & Serkan Yener, 2010. "Consumption volatility and financial openness," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(28), pages 3635-3649.
  8. Alessandro Federici & Pierluigi Montalbano, 2012. "Macroeconomic volatility, consumption behaviour and welfare: A cross-country analysis," Working Paper Series 3612, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
  9. Ho, Chun-Yu & Ho, Wai-Yip Alex & Li, Dan, 2010. "Consumption Fluctuations and Welfare: Evidence from China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1315-1327, September.

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