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Carbon Taxes and Stranded Assets: Evidence from Washington State

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  • Stefano Carattini

    (Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, USA)

  • Suphi Sen

    (ifo Institute at the University of Munich, Germany)

Abstract

The climate challenge requires ambitious climate policy. A sudden increase in carbon prices can lead to major shocks to the stock market. Some assets will lose part of their value, others all of it, and hence become “stranded”. If the markets are not ready to absorb the shock, a financial crisis could follow. How well investors anticipate, and thus how large these shocks may be, is an empirical question. We analyze stock market reactions to the rejection of two carbon tax initiatives by voters in Washington state. We build proper counterfactuals for Washington state firms and find that these modest policy proposals with limited jurisdiction caused substantial readjustments on the stock market, especially for carbon-intensive stocks. Our results reinforce concerns about “stranded assets” and the risk of financial contagion. Our policy implications support the inclusion of transition risks in macroprudential policymaking and carbon disclosure and climate stress tests as the main policy responses.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Carattini & Suphi Sen, 2019. "Carbon Taxes and Stranded Assets: Evidence from Washington State," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1910, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1910
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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