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Obsolescence of Durable Goods and Optimal Consumption


  • Dmitriy Stolyarov
  • Ennio Stacchetti


We study a model with a durable good subject to abrupt, periodic obsolescence, and characterize the optimal purchasing policy. Consumers optimally synchronize new purchases with the arrival of new durable models. Hence, some agents use a "flexible" optimal replacement rule that switches between two adjacent replacement frequencies at irregular intervals. These agents react to wealth shocks by changing the timing of future purchases. The model has distinct comparative statics on obsolescence and durability and can explain how durables with high depreciation rates may have more volatile expenditure. The model also predicts how demand fluctuations respond to a change in product variety. These predictions match the observed changes in volatility of the US auto sales after the introduction of smaller foreign cars in the 1970s

Suggested Citation

  • Dmitriy Stolyarov & Ennio Stacchetti, 2004. "Obsolescence of Durable Goods and Optimal Consumption," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 312, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:312

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Grossman, Sanford J & Laroque, Guy, 1990. "Asset Pricing and Optimal Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Illiquid Durable Consumption Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 25-51, January.
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    5. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, Volume 17, pages 159-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bar-Ilan, Avner & Blinder, Alan S, 1992. "Consumer Durables: Evidence on the Optimality of Usually Doing Nothing," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 24(2), pages 258-272, May.
    7. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1993. "Durable Goods: An Explanation for Their Slow Adjustment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 351-384, April.
    8. Chris Carroll & Wendy Dunn, 1997. "Unemployment Expectations, Jumping (S,s) Triggers, and Household Balance Sheets," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 165-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jerome Adda & Russell Cooper, 2000. "The Dynamics of Car Sales: A Discrete Choice Approach," NBER Working Papers 7785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Eberly, Janice C, 1994. "Adjustment of Consumers' Durables Stocks: Evidence from Automobile Purchases," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 403-436, June.
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    12. repec:fth:jonhop:386 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Orazio P. Attanasio, 2000. "Consumer Durables and Inertial Behaviour: Estimation and Aggregation of (S, s) Rules for Automobile Purchases," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 667-696.
    14. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1982. "Hall's consumption hypothesis and durable goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 417-425.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Klara Sabirianova Peter & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2010. "Inequality and Volatility Moderation in Russia: Evidence from Micro-Level Panel Data on Consumption and Income," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 209-237, January.
    2. Jerome Adda & Russell Cooper, 2000. "The Dynamics of Car Sales: A Discrete Choice Approach," NBER Working Papers 7785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cagri Saglam & Vladimir M. Veliov, 2008. "Role of Endogenous Vintage Specific Depreciation in the Optimal Behavior of Firms," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 4(3), pages 381-410.

    More about this item


    Optimal consumption; durable goods; volatility;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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