Business cycle fluctuations and the distribution of consumption
This paper sheds new light on the interactions between business cycles and the consumption distribution. We use Consumer Expenditure Survey data and a factor model to characterize the cyclical dynamics of the consumption distribution. We first establish that our approach is able to closely match business cycle fluctuations of consumption from the National Account. We then study the responses of the consumption distribution to total factor productivity shocks and economic policy uncertainty shocks. Importantly, we find that the responses of the right tail of the consumption distribution, ...
What would you do with $500? Spending responses to gains, losses, news, and loans
We use survey questions about spending to investigate features of propensities to consume that are useful for distinguishing between consumption theories. Asking households about their intended spending under various scenarios, we find that 1) responses to unanticipated gains are vastly heterogeneous (either zero or substantially positive), 2) responses to losses are much larger and more widespread than responses to gains, and 3) even those with large responses to gains do not respond to news about future gains. These three findings suggest that limited access to disposable resources is an ...
Does Redistribution Increase Output?
According to conventional wisdom, wealth redistribution boosts output by increasing aggregate consumption. However, while redistributive policies can have a short-run stimulative effect on consumption, their effect on output depends, potentially quite importantly, on the nature of household labor supply.
Family Job Search and Wealth: The Added Worker Effect Revisited
We develop and estimate a model of family job search and wealth accumulation. Individuals' job finding and job separations depend on their partners' job turnover and wages as well as common wealth. We fit this model to data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). This dataset reveals a very asymmetric labor market for household members, who share that their job finding is stimulated by their partners' job separation, particularly during economic downturns. We uncover a job search-theoretic basis for this added worker effect and find that this effect is stronger with more ...
Labor-Market Wedge under Engel Curve Utility: Cyclical Substitution between Necessities and Luxuries
In booms, households substitute luxuries for necessities, e.g., food away from home for food at home. Ignoring this cyclical pattern of composition changes in the consumption basket makes the labor-market wedge -- a measure of inefficiency that reflects the gap between the marginal rate of substitution and the real wage -- appear to be more volatile than it actually is. Based on the household expenditure pattern across 10 consumption categories in the Consumer Expenditure Survey, we show that taking into account these composition changes can explain 6-15% of the cyclicality in the measured ...
W(h)ither U.S. Crude Oil Production?
People across the world have cut back sharply on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home and cancelling vacations and other nonessential travel. Industrial activity is also off sharply. These forces are translating into an unprecedented collapse in global oil demand. The nature of the decline means that demand is unlikely to respond to the steep drop in oil prices, so supply will have to fall in tandem. The rapid increase in U.S. oil production of recent years was already looking difficult to sustain before the pandemic, as evidenced by the limited profitability of the sector. ...
U.S. Economic Outlook
Remarks by Michael H. Moskow President and Chief Executive Officer Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. University Club of Chicago - Learn at Lunch Lecture - 76 E. Monroe St., Chicago, IL. A speech delivered on February 16, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois.
Fiscal Stimulus with Learning-By-Doing
Using a Bayesian SVAR analysis, we document that an increase in government purchases raises private consumption, the real wage and total factor productivity (TFP) while reducing inflation. Each of these facts is hard to reconcile with both neoclassical and New-Keynesian models. We extend a standard New-Keynesian model to allow for skill accumulation through past work experience, following Chang, Gomes and Schorfheide (2002). An increase in government spending increases hours and induces skill accumulation and higher measured TFP and real wages in subsequent periods. Future marginal costs fall ...
Household Inequality and the Consumption Response to Aggregate Real Shocks
The drop in output and consumption that occurred during the Great Recession has been large and prolonged. Figure 1 displays per capita U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) between 1985 and 2016 and highlights the large drop in both consumption and output that occurred starting in 2007 and its parallel shift compared with the previous trend. In this article, we ask why consumption has dropped so much and has been recovering so slowly. We also ask to what extent household inequality before and after the Great Recession interacted with the recession ...
Lower Income Households’ Vulnerability to the Recent Commodity Price Surge
In a previous post, I discussed the impact of changing commodity prices on the discretionary income of households and concluded that these effects generally were relatively modest except in cases of extreme swings in commodity prices. As many people know, there was a large surge in energy prices during the first quarter of 2011, and it appears to have had a significant effect on discretionary income and consumer spending. (See recent speeches by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and New York Fed President Dudley; for views outside the Fed, see FT Alphaville, Tim Duy, and James Hamilton.)