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Cars Hommes

7 October 2021
Prospective economic developments depend on the behavior of consumer spending. A key question is whether private expenditures recover once social distancing restrictions are lifted or whether the COVID-19 crisis has a sustained impact on consumer confidence, p references, and, hence, spending. The elongated and profound experience of the COVID-19 crisis may durably affect consumer preferences. We conducted a representative consumer survey in five European countries in summer 2020, after the release of the first wave’s lockdown restrictions, and document the underlying reasons for households’ reduction in consumption in five key sectors: tourism, hospitality, services, retail, and public transports. We identify a large confidence shock in the Southern European countries and a shift in consumer preferences in the Northern European countries, particularly among high-income earners. We conclude that the COVID-19 experience has altered consumer behavior and that long-term sectoral consumption shifts may occur.
JEL Code
D12 : Microeconomics→Household Behavior and Family Economics→Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
D81 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
D84 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Expectations, Speculations
E21 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Consumption, Saving, Wealth
E60 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→General
E71 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
G51 : Financial Economics
H30 : Public Economics→Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents→General
20 November 2018
This survey discusses behavioral and experimental macroeconomics emphasizing a complex systems perspective. The economy consists of boundedly rational heterogeneous agents who do not fully understand their complex environment and use simple decision heuristics. Central to our survey is the question under which conditions a complex macro-system of interacting agents may or may not coordinate on the rational equilibrium outcome. A general finding is that under positive expectations feedback (strategic complementarity) – where optimistic (pessimistic) expectations can cause a boom (bust) – coordination failures are quite common. The economy is then rather unstable and persistent aggregate fluctuations arise strongly amplified by coordination on trend-following behavior leading to (almost-)self-fulfilling equilibria. Heterogeneous expectations and heuristics switching models match this observed micro and macro behaviour surprisingly well. We also discuss policy implications of this coordination failure on the perfectly rational aggregate outcome and how policy can help to manage the self-organization process of a complex economic system.
JEL Code
D84 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Expectations, Speculations
D83 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Search, Learning, Information and Knowledge, Communication, Belief
E32 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Business Fluctuations, Cycles
C92 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Design of Experiments→Laboratory, Group Behavior