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Benchmark revisions and the U.S. personal saving rate

  • Leonard Nakamura
  • Tom Stark
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    Initially published estimates of the personal saving rate from 1965 Q3 to 1999 Q2, which averaged 5.3 percent, have been revised up 2.8 percentage points to 8.1 percent, as we document. We show that much of the initial variation in the personal saving rate across time was meaningless noise. Nominal disposable personal income has been revised upward an average of 8.4 percent: one dollar in 12 was originally missing! We use both conventional and real-time estimates of the personal saving rate to forecast real disposable income, gross domestic product, and personal consumption and show that the personal saving rate in real-time almost invariably makes forecasts worse. Thus, while the personal saving rate may have some forecasting power once we know the true saving rate, as Campbell (1987) and Ireland (1995) have argued, as a practical matter it is useless to forecasters.

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    File URL: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/publications/working-papers//2005/wp05-6.pdf
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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 05-6.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:05-6
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    1. 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.
    2. Peter N. Ireland, 1995. "Using the permanent income hypothesis for forecasting," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Win, pages 49-63.
    3. 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.
    4. Croushore, Dean & Stark, Tom, 2001. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 111-130, November.
    5. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 2003. "A Real-Time Data Set for Macroeconomists: Does the Data Vintage Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 605-617, August.
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