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Testing consumption optimality using aggregate data

Fábio Gomes and João Issler ()

No 752, FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) from EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil)

Abstract: The objective of this paper is to test for optimality of consumption decisions at the aggregate level (representative consumer) taking into account popular deviations from the canonical CRRA utility model rule of thumb and habit. First, we show that rule-of-thumb behavior in consumption is observational equivalent to behavior obtained by the optimizing model of King, Plosser and Rebelo (Journal of Monetary Economics, 1988), casting doubt on how reliable standard rule-of-thumb tests are. Second, although Carroll (2001) and Weber (2002) have criticized the linearization and testing of euler equations for consumption, we provide a deeper critique directly applicable to current rule-of-thumb tests. Third, we show that there is no reason why return aggregation cannot be performed in the nonlinear setting of the Asset-Pricing Equation, since the latter is a linear function of individual returns. Fourth, aggregation of the nonlinear euler equation forms the basis of a novel test of deviations from the canonical CRRA model of consumption in the presence of rule-of-thumb and habit behavior. We estimated 48 euler equations using GMM, with encouraging results vis-a-vis the optimality of consumption decisions. At the 5% level, we only rejected optimality twice out of 48 times. Empirical-test results show that we can still rely on the canonical CRRA model so prevalent in macroeconomics: out of 24 regressions, we found the rule-of-thumb parameter to be statistically signi cant at the 5% level only twice, and the habit ƴ parameter to be statistically signi cant on four occasions. The main message of this paper is that proper return aggregation is critical to study intertemporal substitution in a representative-agent framework. In this case, we fi nd little evidence of lack of optimality in consumption decisions, and deviations of the CRRA utility model along the lines of rule-of-thumb behavior and habit in preferences represent the exception, not the rule.

Date: 2014-06-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-upt
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Related works:
Journal Article: TESTING CONSUMPTION OPTIMALITY USING AGGREGATE DATA (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Testing consumption optimality using aggregate data (2014) Downloads
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