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Loss aversion, economic sentiments and international consumption smoothing

Working papers
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Download PDF: Working Paper 35

This paper demonstrates that loss-averse behaviour weakens international consumption smoothing

Authors: Daragh Clancy and Lorenzo Ricci (European Stability Mechanism)



We examine an unexplored connection between loss aversion and international consumption smoothing. In the face of expected income declines, loss-averse behaviour implies that any adjustments in consumption are delayed until they are necessary. However, if the expected fall in income materialises, the eventual adjustments in consumption are larger. Therefore, loss aversion could weaken international consumption smoothing. We test this mechanism using measures of economic sentiment. These provide a sense of the expected direction of future income changes. We demonstrate that prevailing confidence and uncertainty, our proxies for economic sentiment, reduce the degree of international consumption smoothing. We provide evidence that this effect arises from loss-averse behaviour, using a test of the asymmetric response of consumption to positive and negative output fluctuations that occur following periods of weak economic sentiment. Our findings have important implications for public institutions and private initiatives that aim to improve cross-country risk sharing.

Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the ESM. The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the ESM or ESM policy. No responsibility or liability is accepted by the ESM in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information, including any data sets, presented in this Working Paper.

Keywords: confidence, consumption smoothing, loss aversion, uncertainty

JEL codes: E21, E71, F41, F44

Source: European Stability Mechanism | Working Paper Series | Volume 2019 | No 35 | April 2019 | 58 Pages

Copyright © European Stability Mechanism, 2019 | All rights reserved. Any reproduction, publication and reprint in the form of a different publication, whether printed or produced electronically, in whole or in part, is permitted only with the explicit written authorisation of the European Stability Mechanism.