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How sensitive are consumer expenditures to retail energy prices?


  • Edelstein, Paul
  • Kilian, Lutz


There is growing evidence that the primary effect of energy price shocks on the U.S. economy involves a reduction in consumer spending. We quantify the direct effect on real consumption of unanticipated changes in discretionary income, shifts in precautionary savings, and changes in the operating cost of energy-using durables. The possibility of asymmetries in the response of real consumption to energy price shocks is also considered. We demonstrate that linear models are consistent with the symmetric behavior of real consumption in 1979 (when energy prices increased sharply) and in 1986 (when they fell sharply). It is shown that historically energy price shocks have been an important factor in explaining U.S. real consumption growth, but by no means the dominant factor.

Suggested Citation

  • Edelstein, Paul & Kilian, Lutz, 2009. "How sensitive are consumer expenditures to retail energy prices?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 766-779, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:56:y:2009:i:6:p:766-779

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lutz Kilian, 2008. "The Economic Effects of Energy Price Shocks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 871-909, December.
    2. Davis, Steven J. & Haltiwanger, John, 2001. "Sectoral job creation and destruction responses to oil price changes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 465-512, December.
    3. Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2009. "Pitfalls in Estimating Asymmetric Effects of Energy Price Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7284, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Hamilton, James D, 1988. "A Neoclassical Model of Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 593-617, June.
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    6. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1996. "Imperfect Competition and the Effects of Energy Price Increases on Economic Activity," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 550-577, November.
    7. Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-1069, June.
    8. Ben S. Bernanke, 1983. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(1), pages 85-106.
    9. Leduc, Sylvain & Sill, Keith, 2004. "A quantitative analysis of oil-price shocks, systematic monetary policy, and economic downturns," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 781-808, May.
    10. Hamilton, James D & Herrera, Ana Maria, 2004. "Oil Shocks and Aggregate Macroeconomic Behavior: The Role of Monetary Policy: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(2), pages 265-286, April.
    11. Lutz Kilian, 1998. "Small-Sample Confidence Intervals For Impulse Response Functions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 218-230, May.
    12. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1998. "The Effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards in the US," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 1-33, March.
    13. Hooker, Mark A., 1996. "This is what happened to the oil price-macroeconomy relationship: Reply," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 221-222, October.
    14. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Ramey, Valerie A, 1993. "Segment Shifts and Capacity Utilization in the U.S. Automobile Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 213-218, May.
    15. Kilian, Lutz, 2001. "Impulse Response Analysis in Vector Autoregressions with Unknown Lag Order," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(3), pages 161-179, April.
    16. Lee, Kiseok & Ni, Shawn, 2002. "On the dynamic effects of oil price shocks: a study using industry level data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 823-852, May.
    17. Edelstein, Paul & Kilian, Lutz, 2007. "Retail Energy Prices and Consumer Expenditures," CEPR Discussion Papers 6255, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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