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Durable consumption and asset management with transaction and observation costs

  • Fernando E. Alvarez
  • Luigi Guiso
  • Francesco Lippi

The empirical evidence on rational inattention lags far behind the theoretical developments: micro evidence on the most immediate consequence of observation costs − the infrequent observation of state variables − is not available in standard datasets. We contribute to filling the gap with two novel household surveys that record the frequency with which investors observe the value of their financial investments, as well as the frequency with which they trade in financial assets and durable goods. We use these data to test some predictions of existing models and show that to match the patterns in the data we need to modify these models by shifting the focus from non-durable to durable consumption. The model we develop features both observation and transaction costs and implies a mixture of time-dependent and state-dependent rules, where the importance of each rule depends on the ratio of the observation to the transaction cost. Numerical simulations show that the model can produce frequency of portfolio observations and asset trading comparable to that of the median investor (about 4 and 0.4 per year, respectively) with small observation costs (about 1 basis point of financial wealth) and larger transaction costs (about 30 basis points of financial wealth). In spite of its small size the observation cost gives rise to infrequent information gathering (between monthly and quarterly). A quantitative assessment of the relevance of the observation costs shows that the behavior of investors is essentially unchanged compared to the one produced by a model with transaction but no observation cost. We test a novel prediction of the model on the relationship between assets trades and durable-goods trades and find that it is aligned with the data.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15835.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Publication status: published as Fernando Alvarez & Luigi Guiso & Francesco Lippi, 2012. "Durable Consumption and Asset Management with Transaction and Observation Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2272-2300, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15835
Note: AP EFG ME
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  1. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 2006. "Information Acquisition and Portfolio Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 5901, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Fernando E. Alvarez & Francesco Lippi & Luigi Paciello, 2011. "Optimal Price Setting With Observation and Menu Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1909-1960.
  3. Attanasio, Orazio & Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 1998. "The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Households' Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 1927, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Sims, Christopher A., 2005. "Rational inattention: a research agenda," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,34, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  5. Yi-Li Chien & Harold L. Cole & Hanno Lustig, 2009. "Is the Volatility of the Market Price of Risk due to Intermittent Portfolio Re-balancing?," NBER Working Papers 15382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2008. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1109-1150, December.
  7. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2001. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," NBER Working Papers 8290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Reis, Ricardo, 2006. "Inattentive consumers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 1761-1800, November.
  9. Sanford J Grossman & Guy Laroque, 2003. "Asset Pricing and Optimal Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Illiquid Durable Consumption Goods," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000803, David K. Levine.
  10. Fernando Alvarez & Francesco Lippi, 2009. "Financial Innovation and the Transactions Demand for Cash," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 363-402, 03.
  11. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  12. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2002. "The 6D Bias and the Equity Premium Puzzle," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1947, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Fernando Alvarez & Andrew Atkeson & Chris Edmond, 2009. "Sluggish Responses of Prices and Inflation to Monetary Shocks in an Inventory Model of Money Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 911-967, August.
  14. Joël Peress, 2004. "Wealth, Information Acquisition, and Portfolio Choice," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(3), pages 879-914.
  15. Stokey, Nancy L., 2009. "Moving costs, nondurable consumption and portfolio choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2419-2439, November.
  16. Verrecchia, Robert E, 1982. "Information Acquisition in a Noisy Rational Expectations Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1415-30, November.
  17. Fernando Alvarez & Andrew Atkeson & Chris Edmond, 2003. "On the Sluggish Response of Prices to Money in an Inventory-Theoretic Model of Money Demand," NBER Working Papers 10016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly & Stavros Panageas, 2007. "Optimal Inattention to the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 244-249, May.
  19. Yosef Bonaparte & Russell Cooper, 2009. "Costly Portfolio Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 15227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Duffie, Darrell & Sun, Tong-sheng, 1990. "Transactions costs and portfolio choice in a discrete-continuous-time setting," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 35-51, February.
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