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Consumption, Income, and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence

  • John Y. Campbell
  • N. Gregory Mankiw

This paper proposes that the time-series data on consumption, income, and interest rates are best viewed as generated not by a single representative consumer but by two groups of consumers. Half the consumers are forward-looking and consume their permanent income, but are extremely reluctant to substitute consumption temporarily. Half the consumers follow the "rule of thumb" of consuming their current income. The paper documents three empirical regularities that, it argues, are best explained by this medal. First, expected changes in income are associated with expected changes in consumption. Second, expected real interest rates are not associated with expected changes in consumption. Third, periods in which consumption is high relative to income are typically followed by high growth in income. The paper concludes by briefly discussing the implications of these findings for economic policy and economic research.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2924.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2924.

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Date of creation: Apr 1989
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Publication status: published as Blanchard, Olivier Jean and Stanley Fischer (eds.) NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2924
Note: EFG
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  1. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  2. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1981. "The permanent income hypothesis and the real interest rate," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 307-311.
  3. Matthew D. Shapiro & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Risk and Return: Consumption Beta Versus Market Beta," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 738, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1989. "Consumption and Capital Market Imperfections: An International Comparison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1088-1105, December.
  5. R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010. "The equity premium: a puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1401, David K. Levine.
  6. Michener, Ron, 1984. "Permanent income in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-305, May.
  7. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
  8. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Wilcox, David W, 1989. "Social Security Benefits, Consumption Expenditure, and the Life Cycle Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 288-304, April.
  10. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1991. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 2436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Grossman, Sanford J & Shiller, Robert J, 1981. "The Determinants of the Variability of Stock Market Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 222-27, May.
  13. Bernanke, Ben, 1985. "Adjustment costs, durables, and aggregate consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 41-68, January.
  14. Marjorie A. Flavin, 1988. "The Excess Smoothness of Consumption: Identification and Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 2807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Kenneth D. West, 1987. "The Insensitivity of Consumption to News About Income," NBER Working Papers 2252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1984. "Debt, Deficits and Finite Horizons," NBER Working Papers 1389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Koenig, Evan F, 1990. "Real Money Balances and the Timing of Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 399-425, May.
  18. 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.
  19. Alberto Giovannini & Philippe Weil, 1989. "Risk Aversion and Intertemporal Substitution in the Capital Asset Pricing Model," NBER Working Papers 2824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Evans, Paul, 1988. "Are Consumers Ricardian? Evidence for the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 983-1004, October.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-44, September.
  24. 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.
  25. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
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