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The Permanent Income Hypothesis Revisited

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  • Lawrence J. Christiano
  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • David Marshall

Abstract

This paper investigates whether there are simple versions of the permanent income hypothesis which are consistent with the aggregate U.S. consumption and output data. Our analysis is conducted within the confines of a simple dynamic general equilibrium model of aggregate real output, investment, hours of work and consumption. We study the quantitative importance of two perturbations to the version of our model which predicts that observed consumption follows a random walk: (i) changing the production technology specification which rationalizes the random walk result, and (ii) replacing the assumption that agents' decision intervals coincide with the data sampling interval with the assumption that agents make decisions on a continuous time basis. We find substantially less evidence against the continuous time models than against their discrete time counterparts. In fact neither of the two continuous time models can be rejected at conventional significance levels. The continuous time models outperform their discrete time counterparts primarily because they explicitly account for the fact that the data used to test the models are tine averaged measures of the underlying unobserved point-in-time variables. The net result is that they are better able to accommodate the degree of serial correlation present in the first difference of observed per capita U.S. consumption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2209.

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Date of creation: Mar 1987
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Publication status: published as Econometrica, Volume 59, Number 2, March 1991, pp. 397-424.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2209

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  1. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
  2. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
  3. Michener, Ron, 1984. "Permanent income in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-305, May.
  4. John Y. Campbell, 1986. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  6. Stephen Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-81, March.
  8. Dunn, Kenneth B. & Singleton, Kenneth J., 1986. "Modeling the term structure of interest rates under non-separable utility and durability of goods," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 27-55, September.
  9. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
  10. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
  11. Eichenbaum, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter, 1990. "Estimating Models with Intertemporal Substitution Using Aggregate Time Series Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 53-69, January.
  12. Gregory Mankiw, N. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1985. "Trends, random walks, and tests of the permanent income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 165-174, September.
  13. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "Exact linear rational expectations models: specification and estimation," Staff Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 71, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  15. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  16. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  17. 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, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
  18. Charles R. Nelson, 1985. "A Reappraisal of Recent Tests of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1982. "Formulating and estimating continuous time rational expectations models," Staff Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 75, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1980. "Methods for estimating continuous time Rational Expectations models from discrete time data," Staff Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 59, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  21. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J, 1983. "The Dimensionality of the Aliasing Problem in Models with Rational Spectral Densities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 377-87, March.
  22. Geweke, John F, 1978. "Temporal Aggregation in the Multiple Regression Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 643-61, May.
  23. Sims, Christopher A, 1971. "Discrete Approximations to Continuous Time Distributed Lags in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 39(3), pages 545-63, May.
  24. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
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