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Inequality and Aggregate Demand

Author

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  • Matthew Rognlie

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Adrien Auclert

    (Princeton)

Abstract

We explore the quantitative effects of transitory and persistent increases in income inequality on equilibrium interest rates and output. Our starting point is a Bewley-Huggett-Aiyagari model featuring rich heterogeneity and earnings dynamics as well as downward nominal wage rigidities. A temporary rise in inequality, if not accommodated by monetary policy, has an immediate effect on output that can be quantified using the empirical covariance between income and marginal propensities to consume. A permanent rise in inequality can lead to a permanent Keynesian recession, which is not fully offset by monetary policy due to a lower bound on interest rates. We show that the magnitude of the real interest rate fall and the severity of the steady-state slump can be approximated by simple formulas involving quantifiable elasticities and shares, together with two parameters that summarize the effect of idiosyncratic uncertainty and real interest rates on aggregate savings. For plausible parametrizations the rise in inequality can push the economy into a liquidity trap and create a deep recession. Capital investment and deficit-financed fiscal policy mitigate the fall in real interest rates and the severity of the slump.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Rognlie & Adrien Auclert, 2016. "Inequality and Aggregate Demand," 2016 Meeting Papers 1353, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:1353
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy

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