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

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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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2924.

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Date of creation: Apr 1989
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Publication status: published as Blanchard, Olivier Jean and Stanley Fischer (eds.) NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2924

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  1. 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.
  2. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  3. Campbell, John Y. & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Scholarly Articles 3353762, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Kenneth D. West, 1987. "The Insensitivity of Consumption to News About Income," NBER Working Papers 2252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sanford J. Grossman & Robert J. Shiller, 1980. "The Determinants of the Variability of Stock Market Prices," NBER Working Papers 0564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1984. "Debt, Deficits and Finite Horizons," NBER Working Papers 1389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ben S. Bernanke, 1982. "Adjustment Costs, Durables, and Aggregate Consumption," NBER Working Papers 1038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Evan F. Koenig, 1989. "Real money balances and the timing of consumption: an empirical investigation," Research Paper 8906, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  15. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  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. 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.
  22. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1981. "The permanent income hypothesis and the real interest rate," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 307-311.
  23. 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.
  24. Marjorie A. Flavin, 1988. "The Excess Smoothness of Consumption: Identification and Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 2807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Michener, Ron, 1984. "Permanent income in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-305, May.
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