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Discounting, Values, and Decisions

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  • John K.-H. Quah
  • Bruno Strulovici

Abstract

How do discount rates affect agents' decisions and valuations? This paper provides a general method to analyze this question, allowing stochastic and managed cash flows, stochastic discount rates, and time inconsistency and including arbitrary learning and payoff or utility processes. We show that some of these features can lead to counterintuitive answers (e.g., "a more patient agent stops earlier"), but we also establish, under simple conditions, theorems yielding robust predictions concerning the impact of discount rates on control and stopping decisions and on valuations. We apply our theory to models of search, experimentation, bankruptcy, optimal growth, investment, and social learning.

Suggested Citation

  • John K.-H. Quah & Bruno Strulovici, 2013. "Discounting, Values, and Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(5), pages 896-939.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/673867
    DOI: 10.1086/673867
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arrow, Kenneth J & Levhari, David, 1969. "Uniqueness of the Internal Rate of Return with Variable Life of Investment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 79(315), pages 560-566, September.
    2. Leland, Hayne E, 1994. "Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1213-1252, September.
    3. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    4. Bruno Strulovici & Martin Szydlowski, 2012. "On the Smoothness of Value Functions," Discussion Papers 1542, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. Bruno Strulovici, 2010. "Learning While Voting: Determinants of Collective Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 933-971, May.
    6. Breeden, Douglas T., 1979. "An intertemporal asset pricing model with stochastic consumption and investment opportunities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 265-296, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chiaki Hara, 2019. "Heterogeneous Impatience of Individual Consumers and Decreasing Impatience of the Representative Consumer," KIER Working Papers 1009, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Matteo Escud'e & Ludvig Sinander, 2019. "Slow persuasion," Papers 1903.09055, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2022.
    3. Sandroni, Alvaro & Urgun, Can, 2017. "Dynamics in Art of War," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 51-58.
    4. Marc Kaufmann, 2021. "Projection Bias in Effort Choices," Papers 2104.04327, arXiv.org.
    5. Ke, T. Tony & Villas-Boas, J. Miguel, 2019. "Optimal learning before choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 383-437.
    6. Strulovici, Bruno & Szydlowski, Martin, 2015. "On the smoothness of value functions and the existence of optimal strategies in diffusion models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PB), pages 1016-1055.
    7. Strulovici, Bruno & Szydlowski, Martin, 2012. "On the Smoothness of Value Functions," MPRA Paper 36326, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 31 Jan 2012.
    8. Doruk Cetemen & Felix Zhiyu Feng & Can Urgun, 2019. "Contracting with Non-Exponential Discounting: Moral Hazard and Dynamic Inconsistency," Working Papers 2019-17, Princeton University. Economics Department..
    9. Ebert, Sebastian & Wei, Wei & Zhou, Xun Yu, 2020. "Weighted discounting—On group diversity, time-inconsistency, and consequences for investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    10. Ron Siegel & Bruno Strulovici, 2015. "On the Design of Criminal Trials: The Benefits of a Three-Verdict System," Discussion Papers 1581, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    11. Alexandrer Groves, 2013. "Identifying What is Tempting," 2013 Papers pgr489, Job Market Papers.
    12. Martin Dumav, 2021. "Moral Hazard, Dynamic Incentives, and Ambiguous Perceptions," Papers 2110.15229, arXiv.org.
    13. Sadler, Evan, 2021. "Dead ends," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    14. Schosser, Josef, 2016. "Time (in)consistency and real options: Much ado about nothing?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 77-84.
    15. Choi, Kyoung Jin & Kwak, Minsuk & Shim, Gyoocheol, 2017. "Time preference and real investment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 18-33.
    16. Gorno, Leandro & Iachan, Felipe S., 2020. "Competitive real options under private information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 185(C).

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