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Wealth and Volatility

Listed author(s):
  • Fabrizio Perri

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Jonathan Heathcote

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis)

Periods of low household wealth in United States macroeconomic history have also been periods of high business cycle volatility. This paper develops a simple model that can exhibit self-fulfilling fluctuations in the expected path for unemployment. The novel feature is that the scope for sunspot-driven volatility depends on the level of household wealth. When wealth is high, consumer demand is largely insensitive to unemployment expectations and the economy is robust to confidence crises. When wealth is low, a stronger precautionary motive makes demand more sensitive to unemployment expectations, and the economy becomes vulnerable to confidence-driven fluctuations. In this case, there is a potential role for public policies to stabilize demand. Microeconomic evidence is consistent with the key model mechanism: during the Great Recession, consumers with relatively low wealth, ceteris paribus, cut expenditures more sharply.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 385.

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Date of creation: 2013
Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:385
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Pascal Michaillat, 2010. "Do Matching Frictions Explain Unemployment? Not in Bad Times," CEP Discussion Papers dp1024, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Martin Lettau & Sydney C. Ludvigson, 2004. "The Declining Equity Premium: What Role Does Macroeconomic Risk Play?," 2004 Meeting Papers 644, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  5. Jonathan Heathcote & Morris Davis, 2004. "The Price and Quantity of Residential Land in the United States," 2004 Meeting Papers 32, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Loukas Karabarbounis, "undated". "The Cyclicality of the Opportunity Cost of Employment," Working Paper 126541, Harvard University OpenScholar.
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  9. Christopher Carroll & Jiri Slacalek & Martin Sommer, 2012. "Dissecting Saving Dynamics: Measuring Wealth, Precautionary, and Credit Effects," Economics Working Paper Archive 602, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  10. Barro, Robert J & Grossman, Herschel I, 1971. "A General Disequilibrium Model of Income and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 82-93, March.
  11. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  13. repec:pri:cepsud:234kaplan is not listed on IDEAS
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