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Adjustment of Consumers' Durables Stocks: Evidence from Automobile Purchases

Listed author(s):
  • Janice C. Eberly

Disturbances to aggregate expenditure on consumer durables are much more persistent than predicted by an optimizing representative consumer model. Recent work in macroeconomics has explored this "slowness to adjust" in the context of consumers facing transactions costs when purchasing durable goods. This approach produces infrequent household purchases and requires explicit attention to aggregation of households. This paper considers household behavior directly, using panel data on automobile purchases and finds that about half of the households purchase automobiles subject only to transactions costs. Explicit aggregation shows that the cross-section distribution of households according to their durables stocks is quite similar to that theoretically predicted. Simulated aggregate expenditures using observed household slowness to adjust show persistence of aggregate shocks and response to income growth consistent with the aggregate data.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research in its series Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers with number 22-91.

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Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:22-91
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  1. 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 971-987, December.
  2. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
  3. Andrew S. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-725.
  4. Chah, Eun Young & Ramey, Valerie A & Starr, Ross M, 1995. "Liquidity Constraints and Intertemporal Consumer Optimization: Theory and Evidence from Durable Goods," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 272-287, February.
  5. Avner Bar-Ilan & Alan S. Blinder, 1988. "Consumer Durables and the Optimality of Usually Doing Nothing," NBER Working Papers 2488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-257, August.
  7. Pok-Sang Lam, 1991. "Permanent Income, Liquidity, and Adjustments of Automobile Stocks: Evidence from Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 203-230.
  8. Ben S. Bernanke, 1984. "Permanent Income, Liquidity, and Expenditure on Automobiles: Evidence from Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 587-614.
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