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Rare Disasters and Risk Sharing with Heterogeneous Beliefs

  • Hui Chen
  • Scott Joslin
  • Ngoc-Khanh Tran
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Risks of rare economic disasters can have a large impact on asset prices. At the same time, difficulties in inference regarding both the likelihood and severity of disasters, as well as agency problems, can lead to significant disagreements among investors about disaster risk. We show that such disagreements generate strong risk-sharing motives, such that just a small number of optimists in the economy will significantly reduce the disaster risk premium. Our model highlights the "latent" nature of disaster risk. The disaster risk premium will likely be low and smooth during normal times but increases dramatically when the risk-sharing capacity of the optimists is reduced, e.g., following a disaster. The model also helps reconcile the difference in the amount of disaster risk implied by financial markets and international macroeconomic data, and provides caution to the approach of extracting disaster probabilities from asset prices, which will disproportionately reflect the beliefs of a small group of optimists. Finally, our model predicts an inverse U-shaped relation between the equity premium and the size of the disaster insurance market. The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com., Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/rfs/hhs064
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Article provided by Society for Financial Studies in its journal The Review of Financial Studies.

Volume (Year): 25 (2012)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 2189-2224

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Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:25:y:2012:i:7:p:2189-2224
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