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House Prices and Consumer Spending

Author

Listed:
  • David Berger
  • Veronica Guerrieri
  • Guido Lorenzoni
  • Joseph Vavra

Abstract

Recent empirical work shows large consumption responses to house price movements. This is at odds with a prominent theoretical view which, using the logic of the permanent income hypothesis, argues that consumption responses should be small. We show that, in contrast to this view, workhorse models of consumption with incomplete markets calibrated to rich cross-sectional micro facts actually predict large consumption responses, in line with the data. To explain this result, we show that consumption responses to permanent house price shocks can be approximated by a simple and robust rule-of-thumb formula: the marginal propensity to consume out of temporary income times the value of housing. In our model, consumption responses depend on a number of factors such as the level and distribution of debt, the size and history of house price shocks, and the level of credit supply. Each of these effects is naturally explained with our simple formula.

Suggested Citation

  • David Berger & Veronica Guerrieri & Guido Lorenzoni & Joseph Vavra, 2018. "House Prices and Consumer Spending," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(3), pages 1502-1542.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:85:y:2018:i:3:p:1502-1542.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdx060
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumption; House prices; MPC; Leverage; Debt; State-dependence;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • 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
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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