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A Model of the Consumption Response to Fiscal Stimulus Payments

  • Kaplan, Greg
  • Violante, Giovanni L

A wide body of empirical evidence, based on randomized experiments, finds that 20-40 percent of fiscal stimulus payments (e.g. tax rebates) are spent on non-durable household consumption in the quarter that they are received. We develop a structural economic model to interpret this evidence. Our model integrates the classical Baumol-Tobin model of money demand into the workhorse incomplete-markets life-cycle economy. In this framework, households can hold two assets: a low-return liquid asset (e.g., cash, checking account) and a high-return illiquid asset (e.g., housing, retirement account) that carries a transaction cost. The optimal life-cycle pattern of wealth accumulation implies that many households are "wealthy hand-to-mouth": they hold little or no liquid wealth despite owning sizable quantities of illiquid assets. They therefore display large propensities to consume out of additional income. We document the existence of such households in data from the Survey of Consumer Finances. A version of the model parametrized to the 2001 tax rebate episode is able to generate consumption responses to fiscal stimulus payments that are in line with the data.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8562.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8562
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  1. Misra, Kanishka & Surico, Paolo, 2011. "Heterogeneous Responses and Aggregate Impact of the 2001 Income Tax Rebates," CEPR Discussion Papers 8306, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  3. Jonathan A. Parker, 2011. "Consumer Spending and the Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008," 2011 Meeting Papers 254, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
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  18. Ragot, Xavier, 2014. "The case for a financial approach to money demand," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 94-107.
  19. Sydney Ludvigson & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Jack Favilukis, 2010. "The Macroeconomic E¤ects of Housing Wealth, Housing Finance, and Limited Risk-Sharing in General Equilibrium," 2010 Meeting Papers 733, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  20. Zvi Hercowitz & Jeffrey R. Campbell, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints of the Middle Class," 2009 Meeting Papers 323, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  21. Annamaria Lusardi & Daniel Schneider & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(1 (Spring), pages 83-150.
  22. Chatterjee, S. & Corbae, D., 1990. "Endogenous Market Participation and the General Equelibrium Value of Money," Working Papers 90-30a, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  23. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Quantitative macroeconomics with heterogeneous households," Staff Report 420, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  24. John H. Cochrane, 1988. "The Sensitivity of Tests of the Intertemporal Allocation of Consumption to Near-Rational Alternatives," NBER Working Papers 2730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Jonathan Heathcote, 2003. "Fiscal Policy with Heterogeneous Agents and Incomplete Markets," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-23, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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