DP10849 | Precautionary Savings, Illiquid Assets, and the Aggregate Consequences of Shocks to Household Income Risk

Publication Date


JEL Code(s)


Programme Area(s)


Households face large income uncertainty that varies substantially over the business cycle. We examine the macroeconomic consequences of these variations in a model with incomplete markets, liquid and illiquid assets, and a nominal rigidity. Heightened uncertainty depresses aggregate demand as households respond by hoarding liquid ``paper'' assets for precautionary motives, thereby reducing both illiquid physical investment and consumption demand. This translates into output losses, which a central bank can prevent by providing liquidity. We show that the welfare consequences of uncertainty shocks crucially depend on a household's asset position. Households with little human capital but high illiquid wealth lose the most from an uncertainty shock and gain the most from stabilization policy.