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A Theory of Aggregate Consumption

  • Yun Kim


    (Department of Economics, Trinity College)

  • Mark Setterfield


    (Department of Economics, Trinity College)

  • Yuan Mei


    (Department of Economics, University of Chicago)

We develop a Keynesian model of aggregate consumption. Our theory emphasizes the importance of the relative income hypothesis and debt-finance for understanding household consumption behavior. It is shown that particular importance attaches to how net debtor households service their debts, and that the treatment of debt servicing commitments as a substitute for savings by these households creates the potential for “sudden stops” in consumption spending (and hence aggregate demand). The implications for aggregate consumption of changes in the distribution of income and changes in the composition of employment are also explored.

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Paper provided by Trinity College, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1301.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tri:wpaper:1301
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  1. Thomas I. Palley, 2002. "Economic contradictions coming home to roost? Does the U.S. economy face a long-term aggregate demand generation problem?," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 25(1), pages 9-32, January.
  2. Marc Lavoie, 2009. "Cadrisme within a Post-Keynesian Model of Growth and Distribution," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 369-391.
  3. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:963-1002 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2004. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2004-14, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  5. Mark Setterfield & Ted Lovejoy, 2006. "Aspirations, bargaining power, and macroeconomic performance," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 29(1), pages 117-148, October.
  6. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
  7. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 163-193.
  8. Gilberto Tadeu Lima & Mark Setterfield, 2008. "Inflation targeting and macroeconomic stability in a Post Keynesian economy," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 30(3), pages 435-461, April.
  9. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  10. Annamaria Lusardi & Daniel J. Schneider & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 17072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Van Long, Ngo, 2011. "The relative income hypothesis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1489-1501, September.
  12. Anthony Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Post-Print halshs-00754557, HAL.
  13. D'Orlando, Fabio & Sanfilippo, Eleonora, 2010. "Behavioral foundations for the Keynesian consumption function," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1035-1046, December.
  14. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:1:p:1-39 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Edward N. Wolff & Ajit Zacharias, 2006. "Household Wealth and the Measurement of Economic Well-Being in the United States," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_447, Levy Economics Institute.
  16. Dybvig, Philip H, 1995. "Dusenberry's Ratcheting of Consumption: Optimal Dynamic Consumption and Investment Given Intolerance for Any Decline in Standard of Living," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 287-313, April.
  17. David Dequech, 1999. "Expectations and Confidence under Uncertainty," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 21(3), pages 415-430, April.
  18. Simon Mohun, 2006. "Distributive shares in the US economy, 1964--2001," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 347-370, May.
  19. Thomas Palley, 2010. "The Relative Permanent Income Theory of Consumption: A Synthetic Keynes-Duesenberry-Friedman Model," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 41-56.
  20. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Thomas I. Palley, 2012. "Wealth and wealth distribution in the neo-Kaleckian growth model," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 34(3), pages 453-474, April.
  22. Cynamon Barry Z. & Fazzari Steven M., 2008. "Household Debt in the Consumer Age: Source of Growth--Risk of Collapse," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-32, October.
  23. Thomas I. Palley, 1994. "Debt, Aggregate Demand, and the Business Cycle: An Analysis in the Spirit of Kaldor and Minsky," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 16(3), pages 371-390, April.
  24. David Bunting, 1998. "Distributional Basis of Aggregate Consumption," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 20(3), pages 389-413, April.
  25. A. B. Atkinson, 2009. "Factor shares: the principal problem of political economy?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 3-16, Spring.
  26. Mark Setterfield, 2012. "Real Sector Imbalances and the Great Recession," Working Papers 1201, Trinity College, Department of Economics.
  27. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
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