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On the Size Distribution of Macroeconomic Disasters

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  • Robert J. Barro
  • Tao Jin

Abstract

In the rare-disasters setting, a key determinant of the equity premium is the size distribution of macroeconomic disasters, gauged by proportionate declines in per capita consumption or GDP. The long-term national-accounts data for up to 36 countries provide a large sample of disaster events of magnitude 10% or more. For this sample, a power-law density provides a good fit to the distribution of the ratio of normal to disaster consumption or GDP. The key parameter of the size distribution is the upper-tail exponent, α, estimated to be near 5, with a 95% confidence interval between 3-1/2 and 7. The equity premium involves a race between α and the coefficient of relative risk aversion, γ. A higher α signifies a thinner tail and, therefore, a lower equity premium, whereas a higher γ implies a higher equity premium. The equity premium is finite if α 1>γ. To accord with the observed average unlevered equity premium of around 5%, we get a point estimate for γ close to 3, with a 95% confidence interval of roughly 2 to 4.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15247.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Publication status: published as Robert J. Barro & Tao Jin, 2011. "On the Size Distribution of Macroeconomic Disasters," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1567-1589, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15247

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Cited by:
  1. Kuehn, Lars-Alexander & Petrosky-Nadeau, Nicolas & Zhang, Lu, 2011. "An Equilibrium Asset Pricing Model with Labor Market Search," Working Paper Series 2012-01, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  2. Adam, Klaus & Grill, Michael, 2013. "Optimal sovereign default," Discussion Papers 09/2013, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  3. Kadan, Ohad & Liu, Fang, 2014. "Performance evaluation with high moments and disaster risk," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 131-155.
  4. Larry G. Epstein & Emmanuel Farhi & Tomasz Strzalecki, 2013. "How Much Would You Pay to Resolve Long-Run Risk?," NBER Working Papers 19541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. repec:bos:wpaper:wp2013-002 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Jerry Tsai & Jessica A. Wachter, 2014. "Rare Booms and Disasters in a Multi-sector Endowment Economy," NBER Working Papers 20062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Salvador Pueyo, 2013. "Is it a power law distribution? The case of economic contractions," Papers 1310.2567, arXiv.org.
  8. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursúa, 2012. "Rare Macroeconomic Disasters," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 83-109, 07.
  9. Max Gillman & Michal Kejak & Michal Pakos, 2014. "Learning about Disaster Risk: Joint Implications for Consumption and Asset Prices," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp507, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  10. Aizenman, Joshua & Noy, Ilan, 2013. "Public and private saving and the long shadow of macroeconomic shocks," Working Paper Series 2776, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
  11. Robert S. Pindyck, 2012. "The Climate Policy Dilemma," NBER Working Papers 18205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Max Gillman & Michal Kejak & Michal Pakos, 2014. "Learning about Rare Disasters: Implications for Consumptions and Asset Prices," CEU Working Papers 2014_2, Department of Economics, Central European University.
  13. Dolmas, Jim, 2013. "Disastrous disappointments: asset-pricing with disaster risk and disappointment aversion," Working Papers 1309, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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