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The effects of uncertainty on optimal consumption

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  • Mason, R.
  • Wright, S.

Abstract

When marginal utility is convex and there is pure labour income uncertainty, certain results are well-known. Asset return uncertainty is often assumed to have qualitatively similar effects; see e.g. Skinner (1988). We show that this assumption is not correct. Asset return uncertainty gives rise to an additional term in the Euler equation, which by introducing a role for current cash-in-hand, may work in the opposite direction to the precautionary motive, leading to ambiguity in the slope of the expected consumption time profile. We present a linearised version of the Euler equation, and an associated closed form solution, in order to provide intuition for these results. Numerical analysis indicates that the approximation is reasonable for empirically plausible estimates of the variances of the underlying disturbances.

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Paper provided by Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton in its series Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics with number 9907.

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Date of creation: 30 Jun 1999
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Handle: RePEc:stn:sotoec:9907

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  1. Christopher D Carroll, 1997. "Death to the Log-Linearized Consumption euler Equation! (And Very Poor Health to the Second-Order Approximation)," Economics Working Paper Archive 390, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  2. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-98, May.
  3. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, September.
  4. Christopher D. Carroll & Miles S. Kimball, 1995. "On the concavity of the consumption function," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, December.
  6. Siegel, Jeremy J., 1992. "The real rate of interest from 1800-1990 : A study of the U.S. and the U.K," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 227-252, April.
  7. Gabriel Talmain, 1994. "Exact and Approximate Solutions to the Problem of Precautionary Savings," Discussion Papers 94-04, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  8. Miles, David, 1997. "A Household Level Study of the Determinants of Incomes and Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 1-25, January.
  9. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
  10. Binder, M. & Pesaran, M. H. & Samiei, S. H., 1998. "Analytical and Numerical Solution of Finite-horizon Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9808, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  11. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  12. 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.
  13. van der Ploeg, Frederick, 1993. "A Closed-Form Solution for a Model of Precautionary Saving," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 385-95, April.
  14. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-47, April.
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  16. Neave, Edwin H., 1971. "Multiperiod consumption-investment decisions and risk preference," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 40-53, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Clare Kelly & Gauthier Lanot, 2003. "Analytical Results for a Model of Periodic Consumption," Keele Economics Research Papers KERP 2003/01, Centre for Economic Research, Keele University.
  2. Aihua Zhang, 2010. "A closed-form solution for the continuous-time consumption model with endogenous labor income," Decisions in Economics and Finance, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 149-167, November.
  3. Aihua Zhang, 2007. "A closed-form solution to the continuous-time consumption model with endogenous labor income," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 0710, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.

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