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Jonathan Fisher's presentation at the 2014 American Economic Association Annual Conference. The presentation explores why income inequality diverged from consumption inequality during the Great Recession, finding that those with the biggest decrease in consumption were the highest income individuals, while those at the bottom of the income distribution had falls in consumption that were smaller and closer to the drop in income.
Our results suggest three main factors associated with the observed patterns. First, property values dropped by a larger percentage for high income households, a negative housing wealth effect led these households to cut back consumption. Second, consumer confidence fell by a larger percentage for higher income households. Finally, the transfer and tax policies boosted the income of the lower income quintiles, preserving their consumption so that it did not fall by as much as it would have otherwise.