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The Economic and Policy Consequences of Catastrophes

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  • Robert S. Pindyck
  • Neng Wang

Abstract

How likely is a catastrophic event that would substantially reduce the capital stock, GDP, and wealth? How much should society be willing to pay to reduce the probability or impact of a catastrophe? We answer these questions and provide a framework for policy analysis using a general equilibrium model of production, capital accumulation, and household preferences. Calibrating the model to economic and financial data, we estimate the mean arrival rate of shocks and their size distribution, the tax on consumption society would accept to limit the maximum size of a catastrophic shock, and the cost to insure against its impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert S. Pindyck & Neng Wang, 2013. "The Economic and Policy Consequences of Catastrophes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 306-339, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:5:y:2013:i:4:p:306-39
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.4.306
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jessica A. Wachter, 2013. "Can Time-Varying Risk of Rare Disasters Explain Aggregate Stock Market Volatility?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(3), pages 987-1035, June.
    2. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
    3. Guvenen, Fatih, 2006. "Reconciling conflicting evidence on the elasticity of intertemporal substitution: A macroeconomic perspective," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1451-1472, October.
    4. Francois Gourio, 2008. "Disasters and Recoveries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 68-73, May.
    5. Robert J. Barro, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 823-866.
    6. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "Reconciling Cyclical Movements in the Marginal Value of Time and the Marginal Product of Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 281-323, April.
    7. Ravi Bansal & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1481-1509, August.
    8. 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.
    9. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "Subjective Expectations and Asset-Return Puzzles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1102-1130, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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