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

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  • Robert B. Barsky
  • Eric R. Sims

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert B. Barsky & Eric R. Sims, 2009. "Information, Animal Spirits, and the Meaning of Innovations in Consumer Confidence," NBER Working Papers 15049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15049
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    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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