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Re-examining the Consumption-Wealth Relationship: The Role of Model Uncertainty

  • Gary Koop


  • Simon M. Potter
  • Rodney W. Strachan


This paper discusses the consumption-wealth relationship. Following the recent influential work of Lettau and Ludvigson [e.g. Lettau and Ludvigson (2001), (2004)], we use data on consumption, assets and labor income and a vector error correction framework. Key findings of their work are that consumption does respond to permanent changes in wealth in the expected manner, but that most changes in wealth are transitory and have no effect on consumption. We investigate the robustness of these results to model uncertainty and argue for the use of Bayesian model averaging. We find that there is model uncertainty with regards to the number of cointegrating vectors, the form of deterministic components, lag length and whether the cointegrating residuals affect consumption and income directly. Whether this uncertainty has important empirical implications depends on the researcher's attitude towards the economic theory used by Lettau and Ludvigson. If we work with their model, our findings are very similar to theirs. However, if we work with a broader set of models and let the data speak, we obtain somewhat different results. In the latter case, we find that the exact magnitude of the role of permanent shocks is hard to estimate precisely. Thus, although some support exists for the view that their role is small, we cannot rule out the possibility that they have a substantive role to play.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Leicester in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 05/3.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lec:leecon:05/3
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  1. Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (Bace) Approach," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 266, OECD Publishing.
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  4. Kleibergen, Frank & Paap, Richard, 2002. "Priors, posteriors and bayes factors for a Bayesian analysis of cointegration," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 223-249, December.
  5. Gonzalo, J. & Ng, S., 1996. "A Systematic Framework for Analyzing the Dynamic Effects of Permanent and Transitory Shocks," Cahiers de recherche 9603, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
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  12. Timothy Cogley & Thomas Sargent, . "Drifts and Volatilities: Monetary Policies and Outcomes in the Post WWII US," Working Papers 2133503, Department of Economics, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.
  13. Martin Lettau & Sydney C. Ludvigson, 2004. "Understanding Trend and Cycle in Asset Values: Reevaluating the Wealth Effect on Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 276-299, March.
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  18. repec:rus:hseeco:70719 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Strachan, Rodney W. & Inder, Brett, 2004. "Bayesian analysis of the error correction model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 307-325, December.
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