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A Model of Expenditure Shocks
We document four features of consumption and income microdata: (1) household-level consumption is as volatile as household income on average, (2) household-level consumption has a positive but small correlation with income, (3) many low-wealth households have marginal propensities to consume near zero, and (4) lagged high expenditure is associated with low contemporaneous spending propensities. Our interpretation is that household expenditure depends on time-varying consumption thresholds where marginal utility discontinuously increases. Our model with consumption thresholds matches the four ...
Government Debt Limits and Stabilization Policy
We evaluate alternative public debt management policies in light of constraints imposed by the effective lower bound on interest rates. Replacing the current limit on gross debt issued by the fiscal authority with a limit on consolidated debt of the government can ensure that output always reaches its potential, but it may permit excess government spending when the economy is away from the effective lower bound. The welfare-maximizing policy sets the gross debt limit to the level implied by Samuelson (1954), while the central bank finances government spending with money when the economy is at ...