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

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  • Reis, Ricardo

Abstract

While this is typically ignored, the properties of the stochastic process followed by aggregate consumption affect the estimates of the costs of fluctuations. This paper pursues two approaches to modelling aggregate consumption dynamics and to measuring how much society dislikes fluctuations, one statistical and one economic. The statistical approach estimates the properties of consumption and calculates the cost of having consumption fluctuating around its mean growth. The paper finds that the persistence of consumption is a crucial determinant of these 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.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5054.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5054

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Keywords: consumption persistence; costs of fluctuations; models of aggregate consumption;

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Mauricio A. Hernández M. & Munir A. Jalil B. & Carlos Esteban Posada P., 2007. "El Costo De Los Ciclos Económicos En Colombia: Una Nueva Estimación," ENSAYOS SOBRE POLÍTICA ECONÓMICA, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ESPE.
  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. Pagel, Michaela, 2012. "Expectations-Based Reference-Dependent Preferences and Asset Pricing," MPRA Paper 47933, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  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. Claudia M. Buch & Serkan Yener, 2005. "Consumption Volatility and Financial Openness," Kiel Working Papers 1260, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  7. 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.
  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. 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.

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