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Private consumption and its drivers in the current economic expansion

Maarten Dossche (), Magnus Forsells, Luca Rossi and Grigor Stoevsky

Economic Bulletin Articles, 2018, vol. 5

Abstract: This article documents the key role that private consumption has played in recent output growth (2013-18), and asks how long the current growth in consumption can continue and whether it is self-sustaining. To that end, this article tries to identify the relative importance of different factors driving consumption, such as the recovery in the labour market, accommodative monetary policy, the 2014-15 drop in oil prices, the increase in asset prices, the easing of credit conditions and deleveraging. As the fall in consumption from 2008 to 2013 was very heterogeneous across countries, this article also sheds light on the extent to which the current expansion has actually led to a net increase in consumption over the past decade. This is relevant because private consumption is also a prime indicator of the economic well-being of households. While the growth of consumption has been low compared with previous expansions, since 2013 it has exceeded initial expectations. It has been driven mainly by the recovery in the labour market, even though unemployment in some countries and for some groups of workers remains higher than before 2008. Looking forward, as labour markets continue to improve, private consumption should expand further in all countries and for all groups of workers. Through its impact on the labour market, the ECB’s accommodative monetary policy is not only contributing to the expansion of private consumption, but also to a decrease in inequality. At the same time, there is little evidence that low interest rates have led to generalised increases in household indebtedness, supporting the sustainability of the overall economic expansion. JEL Classification: D31, E21, E32, E50

Keywords: consumption; inequality; monetary policy; unemployment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-08
Note: 3577821
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