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Gamma discounters are short-termist

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  • Gollier, Christian

Abstract

Using the gamma discounting argument of Weitzman (1998, 2001) when future interest rates are uncertain, several countries have decided to base their investment and sustainability policy evaluation on a decreasing term structure of discount rates. We show that this interpretation of the gamma discounting argument is in fact equivalent to the Local Expectations Hypothesis, a hypothesis globally rejected in empirical finance. We also show that gamma discounters are time-inconsistent and short-termist when shocks to economic growth are persistent. This is because they fail to account for the correlation between future consumption levels and spot interest rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 83-90.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:142:y:2016:i:c:p:83-90
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.08.006
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    Cited by:

    1. Gluzberg, Victor E. & Katz, Yuri A., 2019. "Planetary boundaries of consumption growth: Declining social discount rates," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 521(C), pages 362-374.
    2. Rintaro Yamaguchi, 2019. "Intergenerational Discounting with Intragenerational Inequality in Consumption and the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 73(4), pages 957-972, August.
    3. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben & Panopoulou, Ekaterini & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2015. "Declining discount rates and the Fisher Effect: Inflated past, discounted future?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 32-49.
    4. Millner, Antony & Heal, Geoffrey, 2018. "Discounting by committee," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 91-104.
    5. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben, 2016. "How certain are we about the certainty-equivalent longterm social discount rate?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67258, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Rob Aalbers & Marjon Ruijter & Kees Oosterlee, 2014. "The social discount rate under a stochastic A2 scenario," CPB Discussion Paper 296, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Kathrin Goldmann, 2019. "Time-declining risk-adjusted social discount rates for transport infrastructure planning," Transportation, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 17-34, February.
    8. Szekeres, Szabolcs, 2020. "The real solution of the Weitzman-Gollier Puzzle," MPRA Paper 102344, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Szekeres, Szabolcs, 2020. "Correcting the Error in Gamma Discounting," MPRA Paper 102232, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Jul 2020.
    10. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben, 2016. "How certain are we about the certainty-equivalent long term social discount rate?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 152-168.
    11. Millner, Antony & Healey, Andrew, 2018. "Discounting by committee," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 90246, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Antony Millner & Geoffrey Heal, 2015. "Collective intertemporal choice: time consistency vs. time invariance," GRI Working Papers 220, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Decreasing discount rates; Expectations hypothesis; Uncertain growth; Weitzman-Gollier puzzle;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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