IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/red/sed012/98.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Liquidity Constraints of the Middle Class

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey Campbell

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

  • Zvi Hercowitz

    (Tel Aviv University)

Abstract

Consumption of households with liquid financial assets responds much more to transitory income shocks than the permanent-income hypothesis predicts. That is, middle class households act as if they face liquidity constraints. This paper addresses this puzzling observation with a model of impatient households that face a large recurring expenditure. In spite of impatience, they save as this expenditure draws near. We call such saving made in preparation for a foreseeable event "term saving". Under precautionary saving, good luck drives wealth accumulation, so a high asset level implies an abundance of liquidity. With term saving, assets indicate an impending need for funds and a shortage of liquidity. The borrowing constraint will bind at the time of the expenditure. This separates planning up to that time from the rest of the household's lifetime and thereby shortens its effective horizon. Intertemporal substitution over such a limited period generates strong consumption responses to temporary income changes. As the expenditure approaches, the effective horizon shortens further as the household accumulates assets. Hence, households with more assets have larger consumption responses. We compare a calibrated version of a model that embodies both term saving and precautionary saving motives with observed consumption responses to the 2001 U.S. tax rebate. The model replicates these observations well and also generates "excess smoothness" of aggregate consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Campbell & Zvi Hercowitz, 2012. "Liquidity Constraints of the Middle Class," 2012 Meeting Papers 98, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:98
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2012/paper_98.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
    2. Nicholas S. Souleles & Jonathan A. Parker & David S. Johnson, 2006. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1589-1610, December.
    3. John Campbell & Angus Deaton, 1989. "Why is Consumption So Smooth?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 357-373.
    4. William J. Baumol, 1952. "The Transactions Demand for Cash: An Inventory Theoretic Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 545-556.
    5. Campbell, Jeffrey R. & Hercowitz, Zvi, 2009. "Welfare implications of the transition to high household debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 1-16, January.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 461-481, March.
    8. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2004. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 1-32, January.
    9. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, with and without Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 23-45, Summer.
    10. Ana M. Aizcorbe & Arthur B. Kennickell & Kevin B. Moore, 2003. "Recent changes in U.S. family finances: evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-32.
    11. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Consumer Response to Tax Rebates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 381-396, March.
    12. Karen E. Dynan, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumer Preferences: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 391-406, June.
    13. 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.
    14. Marjorie Flavin, 1985. "Excess Sensitivity of Consumption to Current Income: Liquidity Constraints or Myopia?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(1), pages 117-136, February.
    15. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1996. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption: Evidence from Two Panel Data Sets," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(1), pages 81-90, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Kaplan, Greg & Violante, Giovanni L, 2011. "A Model of the Consumption Response to Fiscal Stimulus Payments," CEPR Discussion Papers 8562, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Claudio Michelacci & Andrea Pozzi & Luigi Paciello, 2018. "The extensive margin of aggregate consumption demand," 2018 Meeting Papers 1008, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Campbell, Jeffrey R. & Hercowitz, Zvi, 2009. "The Financial Labor Supply Accelerator," Foerder Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 275727, Tel-Aviv University > Foerder Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed012:98. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/sedddea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.