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Liquidity Constraints of the Middle Class

  • Zvi Hercowitz

    (Tel Aviv University)

  • Jeffrey R. Campbell

    (Federal Reserve of Chicago)

This paper combines impatience with large recurring expenditures to replicate the observation that middle-class U.S. households consume much more out of transitory income than permanent income theory predicts. In the present model, households make a large recurring expenditure of exogenous timing and endogenous size; hence, in spite of their impatience, households save in anticipation of this expenditure. When it occurs, a borrowing constraint taking the form of equity requirements on collateralizable durable goods limits household's debt. Although the standard Euler equation usually holds good, the household is always liquidity constrained, in the sense that they value assets that provide liquidity more than their fundamental value. These constraints are strongest when wealth is highest. We contrast a calibrated version of the model with evidence from the 2001 tax rebate.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2009 Meeting Papers with number 323.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:323
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Jonathan A. Parker, 2011. "Consumer Spending and the Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008," 2011 Meeting Papers 254, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1999. "The Savers-Spenders Theory of Fiscal Policy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1888, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  9. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel B. Slemrod, 2009. "Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate: Survey Evidence and Aggregate Implications," NBER Working Papers 15421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2009. "Did the 2008 Tax Rebates Stimulate Spending?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 374-79, May.
  11. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  12. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Zvi Hercowitz, 2006. "Welfare implications of the transition to high household debt," Working Paper Series WP-06-27, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-81, March.
  14. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  15. David S. Johnson & Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2004. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," Working Papers 136, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  16. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-48, September.
  17. Kennickell, Arthur & Lusardi, Annamaria, 2005. "Disentangling the importance of the precautionary saving motive," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/15, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  18. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  19. Chang-Tai Hsieh, 2003. "Do Consumers React to Anticipated Income Changes? Evidence from the Alaska Permanent Fund," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 397-405, March.
  20. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2002. "Consumer response to the Reagan tax cuts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 99-120, July.
  21. 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.
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