Managing Households’ Expectations with Simple Economic Policies

73 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019 Last revised: 25 Aug 2019

See all articles by Francesco D'Acunto

Francesco D'Acunto

Boston College

Daniel Hoang

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Michael Weber

University of Chicago - Finance

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Managing households’ expectations directly is a novel policy tool to stimulate the economy by lowering the incentives to save, but so far policies based on this idea have been barely effective. We argue that simplicity is a crucial and yet neglected feature of effective policies that target households instead of financial-market participants. We illustrate this point using novel micro data for a representative population to compare households’ reactions to unconventional fiscal policy and forward guidance announcements. Both policies aim to stimulate consumption via raising households’ inflation expectations, but to understand the implications of forward guidance households need sophistication in economic theory, which is not true for unconventional fiscal policy. Consistent with our conjecture, households’ inflation expectations, consumption, and saving propensities react substantially to unconventional fiscal policy announcements, irrespective of households’ sophistication. Instead, households’ expectations, contrary to those of financial market participants, do not react to forward guidance announcements and hence households’ choices do not react either. Our results inform theorists and policy makers on a neglected dimension to assess the channels of transmission of policies targeting households — simplicity.

Keywords: Household Finance, Savings, Heterogeneous Beliefs, Fiscal Policy, Monetary Policy, Macrofinance, Natural Experiments, Cognitive Abilities, Behavioral Macroeconomics, Macroeconomics with Micro Data

JEL Classification: D12, D84, D91, E21, E31, E32, E52, E65

Suggested Citation

D'Acunto, Francesco and Hoang, Daniel and Weber, Michael, Managing Households’ Expectations with Simple Economic Policies (August 2019). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2019-106, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3439442 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3439442

Francesco D'Acunto

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Daniel Hoang

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) ( email )

Karlsruhe
Germany

Michael Weber (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Finance ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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