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The Permanent Income Hypothesis Revisited

  • Lawrence J. Christiano
  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • David Marshall

This paper investigates whether there are simple versions of the permanent income hypothesis which are consistent with the aggregate U.S. consumption and output data. Our analysis is conducted within the confines of a simple dynamic general equilibrium model of aggregate real output, investment, hours of work and consumption. We study the quantitative importance of two perturbations to the version of our model which predicts that observed consumption follows a random walk: (i) changing the production technology specification which rationalizes the random walk result, and (ii) replacing the assumption that agents' decision intervals coincide with the data sampling interval with the assumption that agents make decisions on a continuous time basis. We find substantially less evidence against the continuous time models than against their discrete time counterparts. In fact neither of the two continuous time models can be rejected at conventional significance levels. The continuous time models outperform their discrete time counterparts primarily because they explicitly account for the fact that the data used to test the models are tine averaged measures of the underlying unobserved point-in-time variables. The net result is that they are better able to accommodate the degree of serial correlation present in the first difference of observed per capita U.S. consumption.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2209.

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Date of creation: Mar 1987
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Publication status: published as Econometrica, Volume 59, Number 2, March 1991, pp. 397-424.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2209
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Stephen Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  2. Robert E. Hall & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1980. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," NBER Working Papers 0505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
  4. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
  5. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J, 1983. "The Dimensionality of the Aliasing Problem in Models with Rational Spectral Densities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 377-87, March.
  6. Dunn, Kenneth B. & Singleton, Kenneth J., 1986. "Modeling the term structure of interest rates under non-separable utility and durability of goods," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 27-55, September.
  7. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
  8. 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.
  9. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1982. "Formulating and estimating continuous time rational expectations models," Staff Report 75, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Lars Peter Hansen, 1987. "Estimating Models with Intertemporal Substitution Using Aggregate Time Series Data," NBER Working Papers 2181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  12. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1980. "Methods for estimating continuous time Rational Expectations models from discrete time data," Staff Report 59, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Michener, Ron, 1984. "Permanent income in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-305, May.
  14. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  15. Gregory Mankiw, N. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1985. "Trends, random walks, and tests of the permanent income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 165-174, September.
  16. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-73, November.
  17. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  18. Charles R. Nelson, 1985. "A Reappraisal of Recent Tests of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "Exact linear rational expectations models: specification and estimation," Staff Report 71, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
  21. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-65, April.
  22. Geweke, John F, 1978. "Temporal Aggregation in the Multiple Regression Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 643-61, May.
  23. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  24. Sims, Christopher A, 1971. "Discrete Approximations to Continuous Time Distributed Lags in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(3), pages 545-63, May.
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