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Liquidity Constraints and Precautionary Saving

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  • Christopher D. Carroll
  • Miles S. Kimball

Abstract

Economists working with numerical solutions to the optimal consumption/saving problem under uncertainty have long known that there are quantitatively important interactions between liquidity constraints and precautionary saving behavior. This paper provides the analytical basis for those interactions. First, we explain why the introduction of a liquidity constraint increases the precautionary saving motive around levels of wealth where the constraint becomes binding. Second, we provide a rigorous basis for the oft-noted similarity between the effects of introducing uncertainty and introducing constraints, by showing that in both cases the effects spring from the concavity in the consumption function which either uncertainty or constraints can induce. We further show that consumption function concavity, once created, propagates back to consumption functions in prior periods. Finally, our most surprising result is that the introduction of additional constraints beyond the first one, or the introduction of additional risks beyond a first risk, can actually reduce the precautionary saving motive, because the new constraint or risk can hide' the effects of the preexisting constraints or risks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8496.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8496

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  1. Besley, T., 1993. "Savings, Credit and Insurance," Papers 167, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, with and without Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 23-45, Summer.
  4. Emilio Fernandez-Corugedo, 2002. "Soft liquidity constraints and precautionary saving," Bank of England working papers 158, Bank of England.
  5. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  6. Carroll, Christopher D & Kimball, Miles S, 1996. "On the Concavity of the Consumption Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 981-92, July.
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