Consumption in the Great Recession: The Financial Distress Channel
During the Great Recession, the collapse of consumption across the U.S. varied greatly but systematically with house-price declines. We find that financial distress among U.S. households amplified the sensitivity of consumption to house-price shocks. We uncover two essential facts: (1) the decline in house prices led to an increase in household financial distress prior to the decline in income during the recession, and (2) at the zip-code level, the prevalence of financial distress prior to the recession was positively correlated with house-price declines at the onset of the recession. Using ...
Are Millennials Different?
The economic wellbeing of the millennial generation, which entered its working-age years around the time of the 2007-09 recession, has received considerable attention from economists and the popular press. This chapter compares the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of millennials with those of earlier generations and compares their income, saving, and consumption expenditures. Relative to members of earlier generations, millennials are more racially diverse, more educated, and more likely to have deferred marriage; these comparisons are continuations of longer-run trends in the ...
Lifecycle Patterns of Saving and Wealth Accumulation
Empirical analysis of U.S. income, saving and wealth dynamics is constrained by a lack of high-quality and comprehensive household-level panel data. This paper uses a pseudo-panel approach, tracking types of agents by birth cohort and across time through a series of cross-section snapshots synthesized with macro aggregates. The key micro source data is the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which captures the top of the wealth distribution by sampling from administrative records. The SCF has the detailed balance sheet components, incomes, and interfamily transfers needed to use both sides of ...
Why Are Americans Saving So Much of Their Income?
For much of 2020, Americans have saved a greater share of their income than ever before. This increase in savings appears to be predominantly driven by precautionary motives. Therefore, consumers may be reluctant to draw down these savings in the future to support spending.
Labor Market Trends and the Changing Value of Time
During the past two decades, households experienced increases in their average wages and expenditures alongside with divergent trends in their wages, expenditures, and time allocation. We develop a model with incomplete asset markets and household heterogeneity in market and home technologies and preferences to account for these labor market trends and assess their welfare consequences. Using micro data on expenditures and time use, we identify the sources of heterogeneity across households, document how these sources have changed over time, and perform counterfactual analyses. Given the ...
Tracking the new economy: using growth theory to detect changes in trend productivity
The acceleration of productivity since 1995 has prompted a debate over whether the economy's underlying growth rate will remain high. In this paper, we propose a methodology for estimating trend growth that draws on growth theory to identify variables other than productivity namely consumption and labor compensation to help estimate trend productivity growth. We treat that trend as a common factor with two "regimes," high-growth and low-growth. Our analysis picks up striking evidence of a switch in the mid-1990s to a higher long-term growth regime, as well as a switch in the early 1970s in ...
Oil Prices and Consumption across Countries and U.S. States
We study the effects of oil prices on consumption across countries and U.S. states, by exploiting the time-series and cross-sectional variation in oil dependency of these economies. We build two large datasets: one with 55 countries over the years 1975-2018, and another with all U.S. states over the period 1989-2018. We then show that oil price declines generate positive effects on consumption in oil-importing economies, while depressing consumption in oil-exporting economies. We also document that oil price increases do more harm than the good afforded by oil price decreases both in the ...
Mortgage Debt, Consumption, and Illiquid Housing Markets in the Great Recession
Using a model with housing search, endogenous credit constraints, and mortgage default, this paper accounts for the housing crash from 2006 to 2011 and its implications for aggregate and cross-sectional consumption during the Great Recession. Left tail shocks to labor market uncertainty and tighter down payment requirements emerge as the key drivers. An endogenous decline in housing liquidity amplifies the recession by increasing foreclosures, contracting credit, and depressing consumption. Balance sheets act as a transmission mechanism from housing to consumption that depends on gross ...
Mortgage Borrowing and the Boom-Bust Cycle in Consumption and Residential Investment
This paper studies the transmission of the major shocks in the U.S. housing market in the 2000s to consumption and residential investment. Using geographically disaggregated data, I show that residential investment is more responsive to these shocks than consumption, as measured by elasticities and the implied contributions to GDP growth. I develop a structural life-cycle model featuring multiple types of housing investment to understand the large responses of residential investment. Consistent with the microdata, the model generates lumpy debt accumulation, lumpy housing investment and a ...
Consumption Growth Regimes and the Post-Financial Crisis Recovery
Andrew Foerster and Jason Choi find that consumption has grown more slowly after the Great Recession due to the continued influence of persistent factors unusual to see outside recessions.