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The effects of uncertainty on optimal consumption

  • Mason, R.
  • Wright, S.

When marginal utility is convex and there is pure labour income uncertainty, certain results are well-known. Asset return uncertainty is often assumed to have qualitatively similar effects; see e.g. Skinner (1988). We show that this assumption is not correct. Asset return uncertainty gives rise to an additional term in the Euler equation, which by introducing a role for current cash-in-hand, may work in the opposite direction to the precautionary motive, leading to ambiguity in the slope of the expected consumption time profile. We present a linearised version of the Euler equation, and an associated closed form solution, in order to provide intuition for these results. Numerical analysis indicates that the approximation is reasonable for empirically plausible estimates of the variances of the underlying disturbances.

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File URL: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/33142/1/9907.pdf
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Paper provided by Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton in its series Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics with number 9907.

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Date of creation: 30 Jun 1999
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Handle: RePEc:stn:sotoec:9907
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  1. Christopher D Carroll, 1997. "Death to the Log-Linearized Consumption euler Equation! (And Very Poor Health to the Second-Order Approximation)," Economics Working Paper Archive 390, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  2. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-47, April.
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  9. Stephen Zeldes, . "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 20-86, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  10. Siegel, Jeremy J., 1992. "The real rate of interest from 1800-1990 : A study of the U.S. and the U.K," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 227-252, April.
  11. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  12. Gabriel Talmain, 1994. "Exact and Approximate Solutions to the Problem of Precautionary Savings," Discussion Papers 94-04, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  13. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, June.
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