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Uncertainty Traps

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  • Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel

    (University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School)

  • Edouard Schaal

    (New York University)

  • Pablo Fajgelbaum

    (UCLA)

Abstract

We develop a quantitative theory of endogenous uncertainty and business cycles. In the model, higher uncertainty about fundamentals discourages investment but agents can learn from the actions of others. Therefore, in times of low activity information flows slowly and uncertainty stays high, further discouraging investment. This creates room for uncertainty traps -- self-reinforcing episodes of high uncertainty and low activity. We characterize conditions that give rise to uncertainty traps. Negative shocks to average productivity or beliefs may have permanent effects on the level of activity through the persistence of uncertainty. We also characterize optimal policy interventions. The socially efficient allocation can be implemented with aggregate-beliefs dependent subsidies, but under certain conditions it necessarily features uncertainty traps. We embed these forces into a standard quantitative model of the business cycle to evaluate the impact of uncertainty traps.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 677.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:677

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  1. Steffen Elstner & Eric Sims & Ruediger Bachmann, 2010. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," 2010 Meeting Papers 614, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
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  1. Uncertainty and the business cycle
    by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2014-03-30 16:38:48
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Cited by:
  1. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom, 2013. "Does Uncertainty Reduce Growth? Using Disasters as Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 19475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mayumi Ojima & Junnosuke Shino & Kozo Ueda, 2014. "Buyer-Size Discounts and Inflation Dynamics," UTokyo Price Project Working Paper Series 017, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics.

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