- The American consumer: reforming, or just resting? (2009)
- American households have received a triple dose of bad news since the beginning of the current recession: The greatest collapse in asset values since the Great Depression, a sharp tightening in credit availability, and a large increase in unemployment risk. We present measures of the size of these shocks and discuss what a benchmark theory says about their immediate and ultimate consequences. We then provide a forecast based on a simple empirical model that captures the effects of wealth shocks and unemployment fears. Our short-term forecast calls for somewhat weaker spending, and somewhat higher saving rates, than the Consensus survey of macroeconomic forecasters. Over the longer term, our best guess is that the personal saving rate will eventually approach the levels that preceded period of financial liberalization that began in the late 1970s. Classification: C61, D11, E24
- Dissecting saving dynamics: measuring wealth, precautionary, and credit effects (2012)
- We argue that the U.S. personal saving rate’s long stability (1960s–1980s), subsequent steady decline (1980s–2007), and recent substantial rise (2008–2011) can be interpreted using a parsimonious ‘buffer stock’ model of consumption in the presence of labor income uncertainty and credit constraints. Saving in the model is affected by the gap between ‘target’ and actual wealth, with the target determined by credit conditions and uncertainty. An estimated structural version of the model suggests that increased credit availability accounts for most of the long-term saving decline, while fluctuations in wealth and uncertainty capture the bulk of the business-cycle variation.