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Consumption, Income and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4

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  • John Y. Campbell
  • N. Gregory Mankiw

Abstract

This paper proposes that the time-series data on consumption, income, and interest rates are best viewed as generated not by a single representative consumer but by two groups of consumers. Half the consumers are forward-looking and consume their permanent income, but are extremely reluctant to substitute consumption temporarily. Half the consumers follow the "rule of thumb" of consuming their current income. The paper documents three empirical regularities that, it argues, are best explained by this medal. First, expected changes in income are associated with expected changes in consumption. Second, expected real interest rates are not associated with expected changes in consumption. Third, periods in which consumption is high relative to income are typically followed by high growth in income. The paper concludes by briefly discussing the implications of these findings for economic policy and economic research.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Olivier J. Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blan89-1, May.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10965.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10965

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    References

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    1. Bernanke, Ben, 1985. "Adjustment costs, durables, and aggregate consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 41-68, January.
    2. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(3), pages 265-79, July.
    3. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1984. "Debt, Deficits and Finite Horizons," NBER Working Papers 1389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Matthew D. Shapiro & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1984. "Trends, Random Walks, and Tests of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 725, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. S. Grossman & R. Shiller, . "The Determinants of the Variability of Stock Market Price," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 18-80, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    6. Merton, Robert C., 1971. "Optimum consumption and portfolio rules in a continuous-time model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 373-413, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
    9. Marjorie A. Flavin, 1988. "The Excess Smoothness of Consumption: Identification and Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 2807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-44, September.
    11. Koenig, Evan F, 1990. "Real Money Balances and the Timing of Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 399-425, May.
    12. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    14. Robert E. Hall, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Michener, Ron, 1984. "Permanent income in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-305, May.
    16. Matthew D. Shapiro & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Risk and Return: Consumption Beta Versus Market Beta," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 738, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    17. West, Kenneth D., 1988. "The insensitivity of consumption to news about income," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 17-33, January.
    18. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
    19. Wilcox, David W, 1989. "Social Security Benefits, Consumption Expenditure, and the Life Cycle Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 288-304, April.
    20. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
    21. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1989. "Consumption and Capital Market Imperfections: An International Comparison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1088-1105, December.
    22. Evans, Paul, 1988. "Are Consumers Ricardian? Evidence for the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 983-1004, October.
    23. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
    24. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1981. "The permanent income hypothesis and the real interest rate," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 307-311.
    25. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
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