UK Consumers' Habits

These papers report on research carried out by, or under the supervision of, the external members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and their economic staff.
Published on 01 May 2003

External MPC Unit Discussion Paper No. 13

Ryan Banerjee and Nicoletta Batini

We follow Fuhrer (2000) in estimating via Maximum Likelihood a log-linear consumption function on UK data. In doing so we consider various habit formation assumptions. We show that a model of purely “external” habits as in Fuhrer (2000) fits the UK data remarkably well, and possibly in a superior way than US data where, according to our estimates, consumers’ habits look more “internal” in that they appear indexed to past average consumption of only a subset of (peer) consumers in the economy, rather than total past per capita consumption. We also find that for about one seventh of UK consumers, current consumption equals current income- a strong violation of the permanent income hypothesis. Embedded in a sticky price-sticky inflation open-economy monetary model, the model that we estimate helps mimic the hump-shaped response of the output gap to income and interest rate shocks observed in the UK. Estimates of output Euler equations for the UK using a similar method agree with our general results. The consumption and output models that we estimate forecast significantly better than unrestricted open-economy VARs.

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