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Borrowing Constraints, the Marginal Propensity to Consume, and the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas Bishop

    () (Sungkyunkwan University)

  • Cheolbeom Park

    () (Korea University)

Abstract

Available evidence suggests that the average marginal propensity to consume (MPC) from the 2001 tax rebate in the US was not nearly as large as that from previous tax cuts. We examine if this phenomenon can be explained by the fact that the widespread use of credit cards has made borrowing accessible for most US households by constructing a model that simulates the dynamic effect of relaxed borrowing constraints. Our model uses Kreps-Porteus preferences which account for independent measures of relative risk aversion and the elasticity of intertemporal substitution, both of which can theoretically affect the willingness to save or spend. Our model shows that the average MPC drops substantially immediately after borrowing constraints are relaxed because few consumers having binding borrowing constraints at that time. The model also shows that consumers gradually reduce their wealth after borrowing constraints are relaxed, causing more of them to have binding constraints over time, which in turn causes the average MPC to rise gradually to a new steady state value that is slightly lower than the original value. This dynamic pattern of the MPC suggests that a greater ability to borrow with credit cards could explain the lower effectiveness of the 2001 tax rebate. In addition, the model predicts that consumers choose to hold lower amounts of liquid assets for precautionary reasons when they have a greater ability to borrow unsecured debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Bishop & Cheolbeom Park, 2010. "Borrowing Constraints, the Marginal Propensity to Consume, and the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy," Discussion Paper Series 1008, Institute of Economic Research, Korea University.
  • Handle: RePEc:iek:wpaper:1008
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    File URL: http://econ.korea.ac.kr/~ri/WorkingPapers/w1008.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Shapiro, Matthew D & Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Consumer Response to the Timing of Income: Evidence from a Change in Tax Withholding," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 274-283, March.
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    3. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 7879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Sydney Ludvigson, 1999. "Consumption And Credit: A Model Of Time-Varying Liquidity Constraints," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 434-447, August.
    6. Sydney C. Ludvigson & Alexander Michaelides, 2001. "Does Buffer-Stock Saving Explain the Smoothness and Excess Sensitivity of Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 631-647, June.
    7. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Did the 2001 Tax Rebate Stimulate Spending? Evidence from Taxpayer Surveys," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17, pages 83-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. Christopher D Carroll & Miles S Kimball, 2001. "Liquidity Constraints and Precautionary Saving," Economics Working Paper Archive 455, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    10. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
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    12. Edward Castronova & Paul Hagstrom, 2004. "The Demand for Credit Cards: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(2), pages 304-318, April.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Why recent tax rebates did not work
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-05-18 18:57:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    marginal propensity to consumer; borrowing constraints; precautionary saving; elasticity of intertemporal subsitution; tax cut;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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