IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Information, Animal Spirits, and the Meaning of Innovations in Consumer Confidence

  • Robert B. Barsky
  • Eric R. Sims

Innovations to measures of consumer confidence convey incremental information about economic activity far into the future. Comparing the shapes of impulse responses to confidence innovations in the data with the predictions of a calibrated New Keynesian model, we find little evidence of a strong causal channel from autonomous movements in sentiment to economic outcomes (the "animal spirits" interpretation). Rather, these impulse responses support an alternative hypothesis that the surprise movements in confidence reflect information about future economic prospects (the "information" view). Confidence innovations are best characterized as noisy measures of changes in expected productivity growth over a relatively long horizon.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15049.

in new window

Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Robert B. Barsky & Eric R. Sims, 2012. "Information, Animal Spirits, and the Meaning of Innovations in Consumer Confidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1343-77, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15049
Note: EFG ME
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2002. "An estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Research 35, National Bank of Belgium.
  2. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Shapiro, Matthew D., 2007. "Monetary policy when potential output is uncertain: Understanding the growth gamble of the 1990s," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1132-1162, May.
  3. Guido Lorenzoni, 2006. "A Theory of Demand Shocks," NBER Working Papers 12477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Juan F Rubio-Ramírez, 2007. "How Structural Are Structural Parameters?," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000057, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2006. "Can News About the Future Drive the Business Cycle?," 2006 Meeting Papers 31, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Fabio Canova & Luca Sala, 2006. "Back to square one: identification issues in DSGE models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 196, Society for Computational Economics.
  7. David N. DeJong & Chetan Dave, 2007. "Introduction to Structural Macroeconometrics
    [Structural Macroeconometrics]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  8. Peter N. Ireland, 2002. "Technology Shocks in the New Keynesian Model," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 536, Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Miles S. Kimball, 1998. "Are technology improvements contractionary?," International Finance Discussion Papers 625, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Jordi Gali, 1996. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 5721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
  12. Christopher D Carroll, 2002. "Macroeconomic Expectations of Households and Professional Forecasters," Economics Working Paper Archive 477, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  13. Ruge-Murcia, Francisco J., 2007. "Methods to estimate dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 2599-2636, August.
  14. Gali, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "Inflation dynamics: A structural econometric analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 195-222, October.
  15. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
  16. 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.
  17. Croushore, Dean, 2005. "Do consumer-confidence indexes help forecast consumer spending in real time?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 435-450, December.
  18. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Strategic Interaction among Heterogeneous Price-Setters in an Estimated DSGE Model," Working Papers 93, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  19. Smith, A A, Jr, 1993. "Estimating Nonlinear Time-Series Models Using Simulated Vector Autoregressions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(S), pages S63-84, Suppl. De.
  20. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
  21. Blanchard, O., 1993. "Consumption and the Recession of 1990-1991," Working papers 93-5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  22. Hall, Robert E, 1993. "Macro Theory and the Recession of 1990-1991," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 275-79, May.
  23. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : II. New directions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 309-341.
  24. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-45, November.
  25. Paul Beaudry & Franck Portier, 2004. "Stock Prices, News and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Chapters, in: Enhancing Productivity (NBER-CEPR-TCER-Keio conference) National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. E. Philip Howrey, 2001. "The Predictive Power of the Index of Consumer Sentiment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 175-216.
  27. Pesaran, H. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 1998. "Generalized impulse response analysis in linear multivariate models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 17-29, January.
  28. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Robert Vigfusson, 2004. "The Response of Hours to a Technology Shock: Evidence Based on Direct Measures of Technology," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 381-395, 04/05.
  29. Luigi Paciello, 2008. "The Response of Prices to Technology and Monetary Policy Shocks under Rational Inattention," EIEF Working Papers Series 0816, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Nov 2007.
  30. Beaudry, Paul & Portier, Franck, 2001. "An Exploration into Pigou's Theory of Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 2996, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  31. Lutz Kilian, 1998. "Small-Sample Confidence Intervals For Impulse Response Functions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 218-230, May.
  32. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Historical monetary policy analysis and the Taylor rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 983-1022, July.
  33. Carroll, Christopher D & Fuhrer, Jeffrey C & Wilcox, David W, 1994. "Does Consumer Sentiment Forecast Household Spending? If So, Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1397-1408, December.
  34. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 2004. "How Should We Measure Consumer Confidence?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 51-66, Spring.
  35. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1999. "Macroeconomics of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262062038, June.
  36. John G. Matsusaka & Argia M. Sbordone, 1993. "Consumer confidence and economic fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  37. Eric M. Leeper, 1992. "Consumer attitudes: king for a day," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Jul, pages 1-15.
  38. Sydney C. Ludvigson, 2004. "Consumer Confidence and Consumer Spending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 29-50, Spring.
  39. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Information, Animal Spirits, and the Meaning of Innovations in Consumer Confidence (AER 2012) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15049. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.