The Rise and Fall of Consumption in the '00s
The major portion of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is accounted for by consumer spending, which significantly affects the business cycle. Consumer demand has been extremely volatile since 2000, especially given the booms and busts in housing values and in subprime mortgage lending. While it is well-established that housing net worth, credit availability, and household debt levels help to explain changes in consumer spending, the roles played by other potential determinants of consumption are not well identified or understood. This paper uses county-level data and a multiple-regression framework to explore how fluctuations in consumption between 2000 and 2012 are correlated with these macroeconomic variables: income, unemployment, debt, income inequality, consumer expectations, housing wealth, credit access, cash-out refinancings, and foreclosures. Four subperiods are considered: the "dot-com" recession (2001-2003), the "subprime boom" (2004-2006), the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the "tepid recovery" (2010-2012).