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Habits, Sentiment and Predictable Income in the Dynamics of Aggregate Consumption


  • Martin Sommer

    (International Monetary Fund)


This paper explores whether habit formation in the representative agent’s preferences can explain two failures of the standard permanent income model: the sensitivity to lagged consumer sentiment, and to predictable changes in income. I show that in a habit formation model, the sensitivity of consumption to predicted income can be largely reinterpreted as a sluggish response to news. Moreover, the sensitivity of consumption to sentiment reflects the serial correlation in consumption growth generated by habits. The estimated model predicts an immediate (first-quarter) MPC out of a permanent tax cut of only about 30%.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Sommer, 2004. "Habits, Sentiment and Predictable Income in the Dynamics of Aggregate Consumption," Macroeconomics 0408004, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0408004 Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 28

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-987, December.
    2. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
    3. Carroll, Christopher D & Fuhrer, Jeffrey C & Wilcox, David W, 1994. "Does Consumer Sentiment Forecast Household Spending? If So, Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1397-1408, December.
    4. Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1995. "Individual Income, Incomplete Information, and Aggregate Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 805-840, July.
    5. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Marshall, David, 1991. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis Revisited," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 397-423, March.
    6. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
    7. John Muellbauer, 1988. "Habits, Rationality and Myopia in the Life Cycle Consumption Function," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 9, pages 47-70.
    8. Urban J. Jermann & Marianne Baxter, 1999. "Household Production and the Excess Sensitivity of Consumption to Current Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 902-920, September.
    9. Ferson, Wayne E. & Constantinides, George M., 1991. "Habit persistence and durability in aggregate consumption: Empirical tests," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 199-240, October.
    10. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55.
    11. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-543, June.
    13. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
    14. Martin Sommer & Christopher Carroll, 2004. "Epidemiological expectations and consumption dynamics," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2003 92, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    15. Christopher D Carroll, 2000. "'Risky Habits' and the Marginal Propensity to Consume Out of Permanent Income or How Much Would a Permanent Tax Cut Boost Japanese Consumption?," Economics Working Paper Archive 429, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    16. repec:adr:anecst:y:1988:i:9:p:03 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Consumer Response to Tax Rebates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 381-396, March.
    18. Sydney C. Ludvigson & Alexander Michaelides, 2001. "Does Buffer-Stock Saving Explain the Smoothness and Excess Sensitivity of Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 631-647, June.
    19. repec:adr:anecst:y:1988:i:9 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. van de Ven, Justin, 2011. "A structural dynamic microsimulation model of household savings and labour supply," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 2054-2070, July.
    2. Christopher D. Carroll & Misuzu Otsuka & Jirka Slacalek, 2006. "How Large Is the Housing Wealth Effect? A New Approach," NBER Working Papers 12746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jiri Slacalek, 2006. "International Wealth Effects," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 425, Society for Computational Economics.
    4. Dudek, Sławomir, 2008. "Consumer Survey Data and short-term forecasting of households consumption expenditures in Poland," MPRA Paper 19818, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Malgarini, Marco & Margani, Patrizia, 2005. "Psychology, consumer sentiment and household expenditures: a disaggregated analysis," MPRA Paper 42443, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Consumer sentiment; excess sensitivity; habit formation; consumption; marginal propensity to consume; tax cuts;

    JEL classification:

    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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