Carroll, Christopher Slacalek, Jiri Sommer, Martin
Year of Publication:
Working Paper 602
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.