- Fitting parsimonious household-portfolio models to data (2014)
- US data and new stockholding data from fifteen European countries and China exhibit a common pattern: stockholding shares increase in household income and wealth. Yet, there is a multitude of numbers to match through models. Using a single utility function across households (parsimony), we suggest a strategy for fitting stockholding numbers, while replicating that saving rates increase in wealth, too. The key is introducing subsistence consumption to an Epstein-Zin-Weil utility function, creating endogenous risk-aversion differences across rich and poor. A closed-form solution for the model with insurable labor-income risk serves as calibration guide for numerical simulations with uninsurable labor-income risk.
- Do demographics prevent consumer aggregates from reflecting micro-level preferences? (2014)
- Most simulated micro-founded macro models use solely consumer-demand aggregates in order to estimate deep economy-wide preference parameters, which are useful for policy evaluation. The underlying demand-aggregation properties that this approach requires, should be easy to empirically disprove: since household-consumption choices differ for households with more members, aggregation can be rejected if appropriate data violate an affine equation regarding how much individuals benefit from within-household sharing of goods. We develop a survey method that tests the validity of this equation, without utility-estimation restrictions via models. Surprisingly, in six countries, this equation is not rejected, lending support to using consumer-demand aggregates.
- Saving rates and portfolio choice with subsistence consumption (2011)
- We analytically show that a common across rich/poor individuals Stone-Geary utility function with subsistence consumption in the context of a simple two-asset portfolio-choice model is capable of qualitatively and quantitatively explaining: (i) the higher saving rates of the rich, (ii) the higher fraction of personal wealth held in risky assets by the rich, and (iii) the higher volatility of consumption of the wealthier. On the contrary, time-variant “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” weighted average consumption which plays the role of moving benchmark subsistence consumption gives the same portfolio composition and saving rates across the rich and the poor, failing to reconcile the model with what micro data say. JEL Classification: G11, D91, E21, D81, D14, D11
- Asset pricing under rational learning about rare disasters : [Version 28 Juli 2011] (2011)
- This paper proposes a new approach for modeling investor fear after rare disasters. The key element is to take into account that investors’ information about fundamentals driving rare downward jumps in the dividend process is not perfect. Bayesian learning implies that beliefs about the likelihood of rare disasters drop to a much more pessimistic level once a disaster has occurred. Such a shift in beliefs can trigger massive declines in price-dividend ratios. Pessimistic beliefs persist for some time. Thus, belief dynamics are a source of apparent excess volatility relative to a rational expectations benchmark. Due to the low frequency of disasters, even an infinitely-lived investor will remain uncertain about the exact probability. Our analysis is conducted in continuous time and offers closed-form solutions for asset prices. We distinguish between rational and adaptive Bayesian learning. Rational learners account for the possibility of future changes in beliefs in determining their demand for risky assets, while adaptive learners take beliefs as given. Thus, risky assets tend to be lower-valued and price-dividend ratios vary less under adaptive versus rational learning for identical priors. Keywords: beliefs, Bayesian learning, controlled diffusions and jump processes, learning about jumps, adaptive learning, rational learning. JEL classification: D83, G11, C11, D91, E21, D81, C61
- Reforms or bankruptcy? (2011)
- Almost 20 Greek academic economists from renowned universities in Europe and the US have prepared a one-page statement regarding the Greek crisis. In their statement the economic experts call upon the Greek public to accept the economic program of structural reforms, privatization, efficient tax collection, and shrinking of the public sector proposed and financed by the EU partners and the IMF. Among the signatories are this year's Nobel Prize winner Christopher Pissarides and Michalis Haliassos, Director of the Center for Financial Studies and Professor for Macroeconomics and Finance at the House of Finance.
- Saving rates and portfolio choice with subsistence consumption : [Version January 16, 2010] (2010)
- We analytically show that a common across rich/poor individuals Stone-Geary utility function with subsistence consumption in the context of a simple two-asset portfolio-choice model is capable of qualitatively explaining: (i) the higher saving rates of the rich, (ii) the higher fraction of personal wealth held in stocks by the rich, and (iii) the higher volatility of consumption of the wealthier. On the contrary, time-variant "keeping-up with the Joneses" weighted average consumption playing the role of moving benchmark subsistence consumption gives the same portfolio composition and saving rates across the rich and the poor, failing to reconcile the model with what micro data say.
- Evidence on the insurance effect of marginal income taxes (2008)
- Marginal income taxes may have an insurance effect by decreasing the effective fluctuations of after-tax individual income. By compressing the idiosyncratic component o personal income fluctuations, higher marginal taxes should be negatively correlated with the dispersion of consumption across households, a necessary implication of an insurance effect of taxation. Our study empirically examines this negative correlation, exploiting the ample variation of state taxes across US states. We show that taxes are negatively correlated with the consumption dispersion of the within-state distribution of non-durable consumption and that this correlation is robust.
- Confronting the Robinson Crusoe paradigm with household-size heterogeneity (2008)
- Modern macroeconomics empirically addresses economy-wide incentives behind economic actions by using insights from the way a single representative household would behave. This analytical approach requires that incentives of the poor and the rich are strictly aligned. In empirical analysis a challenging complication is that consumer and income data are typically available at the household level, and individuals living in multimember households have the potential to share goods within the household. The analytical approach of modern macroeconomics would require that intra-household sharing is also strictly aligned across the rich and the poor. Here we have designed a survey method that allows the testing of this stringent property of intra-household sharing and find that it holds: once expenditures for basic needs are subtracted from disposable household income, household-size economies implied by the remainder household incomes are the same for the rich and the poor.