The Consumer Response to the Mexican Peso Crisis
Household expenditure surveys are used to examine the effects of the Mexican peso crisis on household consumption. The main smoothing mechanism was a change in the composition of consumption, with households reducing semidurable spending to maintain basic food levels. This article provides a method for disentangling income, price, demographic, and crisis adjustment effects and finds that households increased their expenditure share on certain basic food items even more than Engel’s law and relative price changes would predict. I hypothesize that this reflects the use of semidurables as an adjustment mechanism and show that this leads to changes in the shape and position of the Engel curves. However, the article cannot fully rule out the alternative explanation that the reduction in semidurables reflects households reducing semidurable stocks due to a perceived fall in permanent income from the crisis.
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