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Jel Classification:D91 

Working Paper
Occupation-level income shocks and asset returns: their covariance and implications for portfolio choice
This paper develops and applies a simple graphical approach to portfolio selection that accounts for covariance between asset returns and an investor's labor income. Our graphical approach easily handles income shocks that are partly hedgeable, multiple risky assets, multiple risky assets, many periods, and life cycle considerations.
AUTHORS: Davis, Steven J.; Willen, Paul S.
DATE: 2013-10-24

Working Paper
Consumer revolving credit and debt over the life cycle and business cycle
Despite the centrality of credit and debt in the financial lives of Americans, little is known about how U.S. consumers' access and utilization of credit changes in the short and long term, and how these changes are related to changes in U.S. consumers' debt. This paper uses data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel (CCP), which contains a 5 percent sample of every credit account in the United States from 1999 to 2014 from the credit reporting agency Equifax. It examines how changing credit availability, debt, and utilization over the business cycle and the life cycle and across individuals relate to U.S. consumers' patterns of incurring, carrying, and paying off their debts. Much of this paper focuses on credit cards, since these have observable limits and are widely held, but the paper also briefly examines other forms of debt over the consumer life cycle.
AUTHORS: Schuh, Scott; Fulford, Scott L.
DATE: 2015-10-01

Working Paper
Portfolio choice with house value misperception
Households systematically overvalue or undervalue their houses. We compute house value misperception as the difference between self-reported and market house values. Misperception is sizable, countercyclical, and persistent. We find that a 1 percent increase in house overvaluation results, on average, in a 4.56 percent decrease in the share of risky stock holdings for those households that participate in the stock market. We then build a rational inattention model in which households make decisions based on their perceived level of housing wealth. Numerical simulations generate the effects of house value misperception on the portfolio choices that we observe in the data.
AUTHORS: Fillat, Jose; Vergara-Alert, Carles; Corradin, Stefano
DATE: 2017-10-01

Working Paper
How important is variability in consumer credit limits?
Credit limit variability is a crucial aspect of the consumption, savings, and debt decisions of households in the United States. Using a large panel, this paper first demonstrates that individuals gain and lose access to credit frequently and often have their credit limits reduced unexpectedly. Credit limit volatility is larger than most estimates of income volatility and varies over the business cycle. While typical models of intertemporal consumption fix the credit limit, I introduce a model with variable credit limits. Variable credit limits create a reason for households to hold both high interest debts and low interest savings at the same time, since the savings act as insurance. Simulating the model using the estimates of credit limit volatility, I show that it explains all of the credit card puzzle: why around a third of households in the United States hold both debt and liquid savings at the same time. The approach also offers an important new channel through which financial system uncertainty affects household decisions.
AUTHORS: Fulford, Scott L.
DATE: 2010-06-01

Working Paper
Technological progress, the \\"user cost of money,\\" and the real output of banks
Financial institutions provide their customers a variety of unpriced services and cover their costs through interest margins - the interest rates they receive on assets are generally higher than the rates they pay on liabilities. In particular, banks pay below-public-market interest rates on deposits while charging above-public-market rates on loans. Various authors have suggested that this situation allows one to measure the real quantity of financial services provided without explicit prices as proportional to the real stocks of financial assets held by households. We present a general-equilibrium Baumol-Tobin model where households need bank services to purchase consumption goods. Bank deposits are the single medium of exchange in the economy. The model shows that financial services are proportional to the stocks of assets only under restrictive conditions, including the assumption that either all technologies are constant or banks' technology grows at the same rate as technology in the nonfinancial economy while relative technologies of other financial institutions possibly decline. In contrast, measuring real financial output by directly counting the flow of actual services is a robust method unaffected by unbalanced technological change.
AUTHORS: Basu, Susanto; Wang, J. Christina
DATE: 2013-12-31

Working Paper
The credit card debt puzzle: the role of preferences, credit risk, and financial literacy
We use the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to revisit what is termed the credit card debt puzzle: why consumers simultaneously co-hold high-interest credit card debt and low-interest assets that could be used to pay down this debt. This dataset contains unique information on intelligence, financial literacy, and preferences, while also providing a complete picture of households? balance sheets. Relative to individuals with no credit card debt but positive liquid assets, individuals in the puzzle group have higher discount rates, slightly lower financial literacy scores, and very different perceptions on future credit risk: many individuals are using credit cards for precautionary motives.
AUTHORS: Gorbachev, Olga; Luengo-Prado, Maria Jose
DATE: 2016-07-07

Working Paper
Household inflation expectations and consumer spending: evidence from panel data
With nominal interest rates at the zero lower bound, an important question for monetary policy is whether, as predicted in prior theoretical work, an increase in inflation expectations would boost current consumer spending. Using survey panel data for the period from April 2009 to November 2012, we examine the relationship between a household's inflation expectations and its current spending, taking into account other factors such as the household's wage growth expectations, the uncertainty surrounding its inflation expectations, macroeconomic conditions, and unobserved heterogeneity at the household level. We examine spending behavior for large consumer durables as well as for nondurable goods. No evidence is found that consumers increase their spending on large home appliances and electronics in response to an increase in their inflation expectations. In most models, the estimated effects are small, negative, and statistically insignificant. However, consumers do appear more likely to purchase a car as their short-run inflation expectations rise. Additionally, in some models, spending on nondurable goods increases with short-run expected inflation. These estimated effects on nondurables spending are modest, not highly robust, and appear to be driven by the behavior of homeowners who did not have a mortgage. These findings are surprising because theory predicts that consumption of durable goods should be more sensitive to real interest rates than consumption of nondurable goods. In addition, consumers in our sample, on average, did not expect their nominal income growth to match inflation, and therefore an increase in expected inflation would create a negative income effect that discourages spending in both the present and the future. The findings suggest that, as a policy measure, raising inflation expectations may not be effective in boosting present consumption.
AUTHORS: Burke, Mary A.; Ozdagli, Ali K.
DATE: 2013-12-18

Working Paper
Old, Frail, and Uninsured: Accounting for Puzzles in the U.S. Long-Term Care Insurance Market
Half of U.S. 50-year-olds will experience a nursing home stay before they die, and one in ten will incur out-of-pocket long-term care expenses in excess of $200,000. Surprisingly, only about 10% of individuals over age 62 have private long-term care insurance (LTCI). This paper proposes a quantitative equilibrium optimal contracting model of the LTCI market that features screening along the extensive margin. Frail and/or poor risk groups are ordered a single contract of no insurance that we refer to as a rejection. According to our model, rejections are the main reason that LTCI take-up rates are low. Both supply-side frictions due to private information and administrative costs and demand-side frictions due to Medicaid play important and distinct roles in generating rejections and the pattern of low take-up rates in the data.
AUTHORS: Braun, R. Anton; Kopecky, Karen A.; Koreshkova, Tatyana
DATE: 2017-03-01

Working Paper
In Search of a Risk-free Asset
To attract retail time deposits, over 7,000 FDIC insured U.S. commercial banks publicly post their yield offers. I document an economically sizable and highly pro-cyclical cross-sectional dispersion in these yield offers during the period 1997 - 2011. Banks adjusted their yields rigidly and asymmetrically with median duration of 7 weeks in response to increasing or constant Fed Funds rate target regimes and 3 weeks during regimes of decreasing Fed Fund rate target. I investigate to what extent information (search) costs on the part of the investors in this market can explain the observed pricing behavior. I build and estimate an asset pricing model with heterogeneous search cost investors. A large fraction of high information cost uninformed investors and the exit of low information cost informed investors rationalizes the observed price dispersion. I further qualitatively match the asymmetric yield rigidity within the framework of costly consumer search without the need to impose menu costs or other restrictions on the banks' repricing behavior.
AUTHORS: Yankov, Vladimir
DATE: 2014-08-02

Working Paper
Scarred Consumption
We show that prior lifetime experiences can "scar" consumers. Consumers who have lived through times of high unemployment exhibit persistent pessimism about their future financial situation and spend significantly less, controlling for the standard life-cycle consumption factors, even though their actual future income is uncorrelated with past experiences. Due to their experience-induced frugality, scarred consumers build up more wealth. We use a stochastic lifecycle model to show that the negative relationship between past experiences and consumption cannot be generated by financial constraints, income scarring, and unemployment scarring, but is consistent with experience-based learning.
AUTHORS: Malmendier, Ulrike; Shen, Leslie Sheng
DATE: 2019-10-09

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