Rüdiger Bachmann, Benjamin Born, Olga Goldfayn-Frank, Georgi Kocharkov, Ralph Luetticke, Michael Weber, 20 November 2021

Unconventional fiscal policy acts as a potential stimulus because higher expected future prices should incentivise spending today. This column shows that the temporary reduction in Germany’s value added tax in the second half of 2020 led to a 36% increase in durable spending for individuals with a high perceived price pass-through, along with an increase in semi- and non-durable spending. In total, aggregate consumption spending rose by about €34 billion. Unlike unconventional monetary policy, which often relies on consumer sophistication, the stabilisation success of the temporary VAT cut was partly related to its simplicity.

Henrik Yde Andersen, Søren Leth-Petersen, 20 December 2019

House prices and aggregate spending move together, but little is known about the underlying mechanism linking the two. This column introduces a test to discriminate between the housing wealth effect hypothesis, which says that homeowners consider home value changes as windfalls, and the collateral effect hypothesis, which says that a home value increase generates additional collateral that can be borrowed against. Homeowner behaviour in response to home value rises when they are close to their collateral borrowing constraint, suggesting that the collateral effect is important for explaining the link between house prices and spending. 

Stefania Albanesi, 08 November 2019

Doing a good job of deciding who can borrow is fundamental for the global economy. Stefania Albanesi tells Tim Phillips that current consumer credit ratings do a poor job at predicting which of us will default, and explains how she has used machine learning to improve them.

Jonathan Parker, Nicholas S Souleles, Aaron Goodman, 04 February 2018

The most accurate way to determine how people respond to an economic policy is to observe how they did in fact respond to that policy, but this approach is not always possible. This column uses a 2008 tax rebate in the US to compare the traditional revealed preference approach and a reported preference approach where people are simply asked how they would, or did, behave. The results suggest that reported spending data are valuable in predicting behaviour and in estimating population aggregates, but are not sufficiently accurate to provide reliable quantitative measurements of household-level spending responses.

Masayuki Morikawa, 21 October 2017

Studies predicting a substantial impact of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games on the Japanese economy have tended to overlook substitution effects in spending as well as the characteristics of those who are expected to increase their spending. This column uses a survey of 10,000 consumers across Japan to examine the net impact on consumer spending. While the majority expect no significant change in their consumption expenditures, a greater share of respondents expect a net increase than a net decrease. In general, people in their 20s and 30s, high-income earners, those with higher educational attainment, and households with at least one pre-school child expect a net increase in consumption expenditures.

Paul Edelstein, Lutz Kilian, 06 June 2007

Detailed date energy prices and consumer spending in the US from 1970 to 2006 show exactly how oil price changes affect the economy. The declining size of the US auto sector helped to contain the effects of recent oil shocks on the wider economy.


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