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Who Bears Aggregate Fluctuations and How?

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  • Jonathan A. Parker
  • Annette Vissing-Jorgensen

Abstract

The consumption of high-consumption households is more exposed to fluctuations in aggregate consumption and income than that of low-consumption households in the Consumer Expenditure (CEX) Survey. The exposure to aggregate consumption growth of households in the top 10 percent of the consumption distribution in the CEX is about five times that of households in the bottom 80 percent. Given real aggregate per capita consumption growth about 3 percentage points less than its historical mean during the past year, these figures predict that the ratio of consumption of the top 10 percent to the bottom 80 percent has fallen by about 15 percentage points (relative to trend). Using income data from Piketty and Saez (2003), we show that the income (especially the wage income) of rich households is more exposed to aggregate fluctuations, so their higher income exposure is a likely contributor to their higher consumption exposure. Finally, we find a striking change in the exposure of the incomes of high-income households: prior to the early 1980's, the incomes of high-income households were not more exposed to aggregate fluctuations. Thus, while high-income households currently bear an inordinately large share of aggregate fluctuations, this is a recent occurrence.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan A. Parker & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2009. "Who Bears Aggregate Fluctuations and How?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 399-405, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:2:p:399-405 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.2.399
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christopher J. Malloy & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2009. "Long-Run Stockholder Consumption Risk and Asset Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2427-2479, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:red:issued:16-340 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella, 2017. "Saving and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 280-300, October.
    3. Fabrizio Perri & Jonathan Heathcote, 2011. "Wealth and Volatility," 2011 Meeting Papers 1065, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Kollmann, Robert & Enders, Zeno & Müller, Gernot J., 2011. "Global banking and international business cycles," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 407-426, April.
    5. Martin Bodenstein & Christopher J. Erceg & Luca Guerrieri, 2017. "The effects of foreign shocks when interest rates are at zero," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, pages 660-684.
    6. Christiano, Lawrence & Trabandt, Mathias & Walentin, Karl, 2010. "Involuntary unemployment and the business cycle," Working Paper Series 1202, European Central Bank.
    7. Gust, Christopher & López-Salido, David, 2014. "Monetary policy and the cyclicality of risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 59-75.
    8. Solomon, Bernard Daniel, 2010. "Firm leverage, household leverage and the business cycle," MPRA Paper 26504, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Gust, Christopher & López-Salido, J David, 2009. "Monetary Policy, Velocity, and the Equity Premium," CEPR Discussion Papers 7388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Jeffrey Thompson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income: Labor, Wealth and More Complete Measures of Well Being," Working Papers wp225, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    11. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2015. "Quantitative Models of Wealth Inequality: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 21106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Walentin Karl, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and the Equity Premium," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, pages 1-23.
    13. Fabio Ghironi & Karen K. Lewis, 2011. "Equity Sales and Manager Efficiency Across Firms and the Business Cycle," IMES Discussion Paper Series 11-E-07, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
    14. Nikolai Roussanov & Michael Michaux & Hui Chen, 2011. "Houses as ATMs? Mortgage Refinancing and Macroeconomic Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 1369, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. Conny Olovsson, 2014. "How Does a Pay-as-you-go System Affect Asset Returns and the Equity Premium?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(1), pages 131-149, January.
    16. Walentin Karl, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and the Equity Premium," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, pages 1-23.
    17. Giacomo De Giorgi & Luca Gambetti, 2017. "Business Cycle Fluctuations and the Distribution of Consumption," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 23, pages 19-41, January.
    18. repec:eee:moneco:v:88:y:2017:i:c:p:70-89 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Lagakos, David & Ordoñez, Guillermo L., 2011. "Which workers get insurance within the firm?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 632-645.
    20. repec:eee:quaeco:v:65:y:2017:i:c:p:363-377 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Jonathan A. Parker & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2010. "The Increase in Income Cyclicality of High-Income Households and Its Relation to the Rise in Top Income Shares," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(2 (Fall)), pages 1-70.
    22. Salvatore Morelli, 2014. "Banking Crises in the US: the Response of Top Income Shares in a Historical Perspective," CSEF Working Papers 359, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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