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Expected net present value, expected net future value, and the Ramsey rule

  • Gollier, Christian

Weitzman [1] showed that when future interest rates are uncertain, using the expected net present value implies a term structure of discount rates that is decreasing to the smallest possible interest rate. On the contrary, using the expected net future value criteria implies an increasing term structure of discount rates up to the largest possible interest rate. We reconcile the two approaches by introducing risk aversion and utility maximization. We show that if the aggregate consumption path is optimized and made flexible to news about future interest rates, the two criteria are equivalent. Moreover, they are also equivalent to the Ramsey rule extended to uncertainty.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 59 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 142-148

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:59:y:2010:i:2:p:142-148
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

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  1. Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 2000. "Discounting the Distant Future: How Much Do Uncertain Rates Increase Valuations?," Discussion Papers dp-00-45, Resources For the Future.
  2. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "Subjective Expectations and Asset-Return Puzzles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1102-1130, September.
  3. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Discounting an uncertain future," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 149-166, August.
  4. Christian Gollier, 2005. "The Consumption-Based Determinants of the Term Structure of Discount Rates," CESifo Working Paper Series 1375, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
  6. Elisha A. Pazner & Assaf Razin, 1976. "On Expected Present Value Vs. Expected Future Value: Further Remarks," Discussion Papers 196, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Wolfgang Buchholz & Jan Schumacher, 2008. "Discounting the Long-Distant Future: A Simple Explanation for the Weitzman-Gollier-Puzzle," CESifo Working Paper Series 2357, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Gollier, Christian & Koundouri, Phoebe & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2008. "Declining Discount Rates: Economic Justifications and Implications for Long-Run Policy," IDEI Working Papers 525, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  9. Gollier, Christian, 2003. "Maximizing the Expected Net Future Value as an Alternative Strategy to Gamma Discounting," IDEI Working Papers 213, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  10. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Should we Discount the Far-Distant Future at its Lowest Possible Rate?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 3, pages 1-14.
  11. Christian Gollier, 2008. "Discounting with fat-tailed economic growth," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 171-186, December.
  12. Hepburn, Cameron & Groom, Ben, 2007. "Gamma discounting and expected net future value," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-109, January.
  13. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
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