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Inattention to Rare Events

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  • Mackowiak, Bartosz Adam
  • Wiederholt, Mirko

Abstract

Why were people so unprepared for the global financial crisis, the European debt crisis, and the Fukushima nuclear accident? To address this question, we study a model in which agents make state-contingent plans - think about actions in different contingencies - subject to the constraint that agents can process only a limited amount of information. The model predicts that agents are unprepared in a state when the state has a low probability, the optimal action in that state is uncorrelated with the optimal action in normal times, and actions are strategic complements. We then compare the equilibrium allocation of attention to the efficient allocation of attention. We characterize analytically the conditions under which society would be better off if agents thought more carefully about optimal actions in rare events.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8626.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8626

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Keywords: disasters; efficiency; rare events; rational inattention;

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References

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  1. Mackowiak, Bartosz Adam & Moench, Emanuel & Wiederholt, Mirko, 2009. "Sectoral Price Data and Models of Price Setting," CEPR Discussion Papers 7339, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Maćkowiak, Bartosz & Wiederholt, Mirko, 2009. "Optimal sticky prices under rational inattention," Working Paper Series 1009, European Central Bank.
  3. Filip Matejka, 2010. "Rigid Pricing and Rationally Inattentive Consumer," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp409, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  4. Laura Veldkamp & Christian Hellwig, 2006. "Knowing What Others Know: Coordination Motives in Information Acquisition," Working Papers 06-14, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Information Rigidity and the Expectations Formation Process: A Simple Framework and New Facts," Working Papers 102, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  6. Maćkowiak, Bartosz & Wiederholt, Mirko, 2011. "Business cycle dynamics under rational inattention," Working Paper Series 1331, European Central Bank.
  7. Filip Matejka, 2010. "Rationally Inattentive Seller: Sales and Discrete Pricing," 2010 Meeting Papers 420, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Luigi Paciello & Mirko Wiederholt, 2014. "Exogenous Information, Endogenous Information, and Optimal Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 356-388.
  9. Luigi Paciello, 2009. "Monetary Policy and Price Responsiveness to Aggregate Shocks under Rational Inattention," EIEF Working Papers Series 0916, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2011.
  10. Xavier Gabaix, 2012. "Variable Rare Disasters: An Exactly Solved Framework for Ten Puzzles in Macro-Finance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 645-700.
  11. Yulei Luo, 2008. "Consumption Dynamics under Information Processing Constraints," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 366-385, April.
  12. Barro, Robert, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 3208215, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Mondria, Jordi, 2010. "Portfolio choice, attention allocation, and price comovement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1837-1864, September.
  14. Antonella Tutino, 2013. "Rationally inattentive consumption choices," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(3), pages 421-439, July.
  15. Marcin Kacperczyk & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Laura Veldkamp, 2009. "Rational Attention Allocation Over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 15450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Ernesto Pastén, 2012. "Rational Inattention, Multi-Product Firms and the Neutrality of Money," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 664, Central Bank of Chile.

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