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Saving on a rainy day, borrowing for a rainy day

  • Sule Alan


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Cambridge)

  • Thomas Crossley


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies, University of Essex)

  • Hamish Low


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Trinity College, Cambridge)

The aim of this paper is to understand what a recession means for individual consumers, and to model in a life-cycle framework how individuals respond to recessions. Our focus is on the sharp increase in savings rates that have been observed in the current and recent recessions. We show empirically that these saving spikes were short-lived and common to all working age groups. We then study life-cycle models in which recessions involve one or more of: (i) an aggregate permanent negative shock to individual income; (ii) an increase in the variance of idiosyncratic permanent shocks; (iii) a tightening of credit constraints; (iv) as set market crashes. In simulations and in the data we aggregate explicitly from individual behavior. We model credit tightening as a constraint on new borrowing and this generates an option value of borrowing in good times. We show that the rise in the aggregate savings ratio is driven by increases in uncertainty, rather than tightening of credit; temporary shocks to the supply of credit generate increases in saving only among younger agents.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W12/11.

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Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:12/11
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  1. Carroll, Christopher D. & Slacalek, Jiri & Sommer, Martin, 2012. "Dissecting saving dynamics: Measuring wealth, precautionary, and credit effects," CFS Working Paper Series 2012/10, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  2. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & David Benson, 2011. "Consumption and the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 17688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio, 2011. "Wealth shocks, unemployment shocks and consumption in the wake of the Great Recession," CFS Working Paper Series 2011/27, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  5. Thomas F. Crossley & Hamish W. Low, 2014. "Job Loss, Credit Constraints, and Consumption Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 876-884, December.
  6. Ashoka Mody & Damiano Sandri & Franziska Ohnsorge, 2012. "Precautionary Savings in the Great Recession," IMF Working Papers 12/42, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Orazio Attanasio & Renata Bottazzi & Hamish Low & Lars Nesheim & Matthew Wakefield, 2012. "Modelling the Demand for Housing over the Lifecycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(1), pages 1-18, January.
  8. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jose-Victor Rios Rull & Jonathan Heathcote & Dirk Krueger & Andy Glover, 2011. "Intergenerational Redistribution in the Great Recession," 2011 Meeting Papers 141, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Rajashri Chakrabarti & Donghoon Lee & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Household Debt and Saving During the 2007 Recession," NBER Working Papers 16999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Veronica Guerrieri & Guido Lorenzoni, 2011. "Credit Crises, Precautionary Savings, and the Liquidity Trap," NBER Working Papers 17583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Barro, Robert, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 3208215, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  14. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley & Melanie Lührmann, 2012. "Durable Purchases over the Later Life Cycle," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1213, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
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