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Durable Consumption and Asset Management with Transaction and Observation Costs

  • Fernando Alvarez
  • Luigi Guiso
  • Francesco Lippi

The empirical evidence on rational inattention lags far behind the theoretical developments: micro evidence on the most immediate consequence of observation costs - the infrequent observation of state variables - is not available in standard datasets. We contribute to filling the gap with two novel household surveys that record the frequency with which investors observe the value of their financial investments, as well as the frequency with which they trade in financial assets and durable goods. We use these data to test some predictions of existing models and show that to match the patterns in the data we need to modify these models by shifting the focus from non-durable to durable consumption. The model we develop features both observation and transaction costs and implies a mixture of time-dependent and state-dependent rules, where the importance of each rule depends on the ratio of the observation to the transaction cost. Numerical simulations show that the model can produce frequency of portfolio observations and asset trading comparable to that of the median investor (about 4 and 0.4 per year, respectively) with small observation costs (about 1 basis point of financial wealth)and larger transaction costs (about 30 basis points of financial wealth). In spite of its small size the observation cost gives rise to infrequent information gathering (between monthly and quarterly). A quantitative assessment of the relevance of the observation costs shows that the behavior of the investors is essentially unchanged compared to the one produced by a model with transaction but no observation cost. We test a novel prediction of the model on the relationship between assets trades and durable-goods trades and find that it is aligned with the data.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2010/04.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2010/04
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  1. Stokey, Nancy L., 2009. "Moving costs, nondurable consumption and portfolio choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2419-2439, November.
  2. Yi-Li Chien & Harold L. Cole & Hanno Lustig, 2009. "Is the Volatility of the Market Price of Risk due to Intermittent Portfolio Re-balancing?," NBER Working Papers 15382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2007. "Information Acquisition and Portfolio Performance," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/45, European University Institute.
  4. Fernando Alvarez & Francesco Lippi, 2009. "Financial Innovation and the Transactions Demand for Cash," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 363-402, 03.
  5. Orazio P. Attanasio & Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2002. "The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Household Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 317-351, April.
  6. Fernando E. Alvarez & Francesco Lippi & Luigi Paciello, 2011. "Optimal Price Setting With Observation and Menu Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1909-1960.
  7. Yosef Bonaparte & Russell Cooper, 2009. "Costly Portfolio Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 15227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sims, Christopher A., 2005. "Rational inattention: a research agenda," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,34, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  9. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal To Replace The New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328, November.
  10. Fernando Alvarez & Andrew Atkeson & Chris Edmond, 2008. "Sluggish responses of prices and inflation to monetary shocks in an inventory model of money demand," Staff Report 417, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Ricardo Reis, 2004. "Inattentive Consumers," Working Papers 135, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  12. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2002. "The 6D Bias and the Equity-Premium Puzzle," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 257-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2007. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/47, European University Institute.
  14. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  15. Sanford J. Grossman & Guy Laroque, 1987. "Asset Pricing and Optimal Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Illiquid Durable Consumption Goods," NBER Working Papers 2369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Duffie, Darrell & Sun, Tong-sheng, 1990. "Transactions costs and portfolio choice in a discrete-continuous-time setting," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 35-51, February.
  17. Verrecchia, Robert E, 1982. "Information Acquisition in a Noisy Rational Expectations Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1415-30, November.
  18. Joël Peress, 2004. "Wealth, Information Acquisition, and Portfolio Choice," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(3), pages 879-914.
  19. Fernando Alvarez & Andrew Atkeson & Chris Edmond, 2003. "On the Sluggish Response of Prices to Money in an Inventory-Theoretic Model of Money Demand," NBER Working Papers 10016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly & Stavros Panageas, 2007. "Optimal Inattention to the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 244-249, May.
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