In order to analyze the transmission mechanism of monetary policy, a recent body of literature combines nominal rigidities with heterogeneous agent models. The key property of these models is that the income level of agents is heterogeneous. This paper quantifies the roles played by income level heterogeneity in the response of consumption to monetary policy shocks using U.S. household data. We show empirically that the response of consumption to expansionary monetary policy shocks is larger for high income households than low income households. This result cannot be explained by standard Aiyagari-Bewley-Huggett type heterogeneous agent models, where low income households have a higher marginal propensity to consume due to borrowing constraints. Empirical facts related to household characteristics suggest two potential channels: the presence of illiquid assets and heterogeneity in government transfers. Motivated by these empirical findings, we develop a model that incorporates illiquid assets and heterogeneity in government transfers. Simulations based on the model indicate that the presence of illiquid assets is essential for explaining the heterogeneous consumption response.
Keywords: Consumption; Household income; Monetary policy; Liquidity
Views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bank of Japan or Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies.