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Helping Homeowners During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons from the Great Recession
The Covid-19 public health crisis has sharply reduced the earnings of millions of U.S. households, following the severe curtailment of economic activity needed to contain the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, households continue to confront their ongoing financial obligations. The ability of households to manage these obligations has important consequences for the speed at which the U.S. economy can recover from the current crisis. Households that are wiped out financially in the coming months will not be in a position to strongly resume spending once the virus containment issues have passed. ...
A Closer Look at Japan's Rising Consumption Tax
Japan plans to raise its national consumption tax next week from 8 percent to 10 percent. Some commentators and economists have blamed previous consumption tax increases for causing recessions in 1997 and 2014, but little statistical analysis has been published to support or refute such claims. This Economic Brief highlights new evidence that significant changes in Japan's household consumption behavior did in fact coincide with the 1997 tax hike.
Do Black Households Face Higher and More Volatile Inflation?
Inflation affects different households in different ways. I use detailed data on spending in retail outlets by Black and White households in the U.S. and study the racial inflation disparity. I find that Black households experienced slightly higher and significantly more volatile inflation in consumer goods from 2004 to 2020 compared to White households. More than two-thirds of the difference in inflation volatility can be explained by the fact that Black households are disproportionately more likely to consume goods with volatile prices.
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 ...