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Benchmark revisions and the U.S. personal saving rate

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  • Leonard Nakamura
  • Tom Stark
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    Abstract

    Initially published estimates of the personal saving rate from 1965 Q3 to 1999 Q2, which averaged 5.3 percent, have been revised up 2.8 percentage points to 8.1 percent, as we document. We show that much of the initial variation in the personal saving rate across time was meaningless noise. Nominal disposable personal income has been revised upward an average of 8.4 percent: one dollar in 12 was originally missing! We use both conventional and real-time estimates of the personal saving rate to forecast real disposable income, gross domestic product, and personal consumption and show that the personal saving rate in real-time almost invariably makes forecasts worse. Thus, while the personal saving rate may have some forecasting power once we know the true saving rate, as Campbell (1987) and Ireland (1995) have argued, as a practical matter it is useless to forecasters.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 05-6.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:05-6

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    Keywords: Saving and investment;

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    1. Peter N. Ireland, 1995. "Using the permanent income hypothesis for forecasting," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Win, pages 49-63.
    2. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Working Papers 99-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    3. 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.
    4. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-73, November.
    5. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for marcoeconomists: does the data vintage matter?," Working Papers 99-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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    Cited by:
    1. Andrew Kish, 2006. "Perspectives on recent trends in consumer debt," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 06-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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