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The permanent income hypothesis revisited

  • Lawrence J. Christiano
  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • David Marshall

Measured aggregate U.S. consumption does not behave like a martingale. This paper develops and tests two variants of the permanent income model that are consistent with this fact. In both variants, we assume agents make decisions on a continuous time basis. According to the first variant, the martingale hypothesis holds in continuous time and serial persistence in measured consumption reflects only the effects of time aggregation. We investigate this variant using both structural and atheoretical econometric models. The evidence against these models is far from overwhelming. This suggests that the martingale hypothesis may yet be a useful way to conceptualize the relationship between aggregate quarterly U.S. consumption and income. According to the second variant of the permanent income model, serial persistence in measured consumption reflects the effects of exogenous technology shocks and time aggression. In this model, continuous time consumption does not behave like a martingale. We find little evidence against this variance of the permanent income model. It is difficult, on the basis of aggregate quarterly U.S. data, to convincingly distinguish between the different continuous time models considered in the paper.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 129.

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Date of creation: 1990
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:129
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  1. Eichenbaum, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter, 1990. "Estimating Models with Intertemporal Substitution Using Aggregate Time Series Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 53-69, January.
  2. Gregory Mankiw, N. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1985. "Trends, random walks, and tests of the permanent income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 165-174, September.
  3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
  4. Charles R. Nelson, 1985. "A Reappraisal of Recent Tests of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John Y. Campbell, 1986. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1982. "Formulating and estimating continuous time rational expectations models," Staff Report 75, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J, 1983. "The Dimensionality of the Aliasing Problem in Models with Rational Spectral Densities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 377-87, March.
  8. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-81, March.
  9. Sims, Christopher A, 1971. "Discrete Approximations to Continuous Time Distributed Lags in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(3), pages 545-63, May.
  10. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
  11. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1980. "Methods for estimating continuous time Rational Expectations models from discrete time data," Staff Report 59, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Dunn, Kenneth B. & Singleton, Kenneth J., 1986. "Modeling the term structure of interest rates under non-separable utility and durability of goods," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 27-55, September.
  13. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "Exact linear rational expectations models: specification and estimation," Staff Report 71, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  15. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
  16. Michener, Ron, 1984. "Permanent income in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-305, May.
  17. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  18. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
  19. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  20. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  21. Geweke, John F, 1978. "Temporal Aggregation in the Multiple Regression Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 643-61, May.
  22. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
  23. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  24. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
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