IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Does Uncertainty Reduce Growth? Using Disasters as Natural Experiments

  • Scott R. Baker
  • Nicholas Bloom

A growing body of evidence suggests that uncertainty is counter cyclical, rising sharply in recessions and falling in booms. But what is the causal relationship between uncertainty and growth? To identify this we construct cross country panel data on stock market levels and volatility as proxies for the first and second moments of business conditions. We then use natural disasters, terrorist attacks and unexpected political shocks as instruments for our stock market proxies of first and second moment shocks. We find that both the first and second moments are highly significant in explaining GDP growth, with second moment shocks accounting for at least a half of the variation in growth. Variations in higher moments of stock market returns appear to have little impact on growth.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1243.

in new window

Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1243
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Yavuz Arslan & Aslıhan Atabek & Timur Hulagu & Saygın Şahinöz, 2015. "Expectation errors, uncertainty, and economic activity," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 634-660.
  2. Thomas Fomby & Yuki Ikeda & Norman V. Loayza, 2013. "The Growth Aftermath Of Natural Disasters," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(3), pages 412-434, 04.
  3. Carrière-Swallow, Yan & Céspedes, Luis Felipe, 2013. "The impact of uncertainty shocks in emerging economies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 316-325.
  4. John Y. Campbell, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 1-43, 02.
  5. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 85-106, February.
  6. Miklos Koren & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "Volatility and development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 5312, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Hamilton, James D & Gang, Lin, 1996. "Stock Market Volatility and the Business Cycle," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(5), pages 573-93, Sept.-Oct.
  8. Pablo Guerron & Martin Uribe & Juan Rubio-Ramirez & Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde, 2010. "Risk Matters: The Real Effects of Volatility Shocks," 2010 Meeting Papers 281, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Francesco Bianchi & Leonardo Melosi, 2013. "Dormant Shocks and Fiscal Virtue," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2013, Volume 28, pages 1-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Rüdiger Bachmann & Christian Bayer, 2011. "Uncertainty Business Cycles - Really?," NBER Working Papers 16862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Laura Veldkamp, 2003. "Learning Asymmetries in Real Business Cycles," Working Papers 03-21, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  12. Pablo N D’Erasmo & Hernan J Moscoso-Boedo, 2011. "Intangibles and Endogenous Firm Volatility over the Business Cycle," Virginia Economics Online Papers 400, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  13. Nicholas Bloom, 2009. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 623-685, 05.
  14. Fatih Guvenen & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2012. "The nature of countercyclical income risk," Staff Report 476, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. John Hassler, . "Variations in Risk and Fluctuations in Demand - a theoretical model," Homapage Papers _003, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  16. G. William Schwert, 1988. "Why Does Stock Market Volatility Change Over Time?," NBER Working Papers 2798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Steffen Elstner & Eric Sims & Ruediger Bachmann, 2010. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," 2010 Meeting Papers 614, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Matthias Kehrig, 2011. "The Cyclicality of Productivity Dispersion," 2011 Meeting Papers 484, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. Asaf Zussman & Noam Zussman & Morten Orregaard Nielsen, 2008. "Asset Market Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 84-115, 02.
  20. Ravi Bansal & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1481-1509, 08.
  21. François Gourio, 2009. "Disasters Risk and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 15399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Hartman, Richard, 1972. "The effects of price and cost uncertainty on investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 258-266, October.
  23. Robert F. Engle & Jose Gonzalo Rangel, 2008. "The Spline-GARCH Model for Low-Frequency Volatility and Its Global Macroeconomic Causes," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(3), pages 1187-1222, May.
  24. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  25. Ruediger Bachmann & Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel, 2008. "Aggregate Implications of Lumpy Investment: New Evidence and a DSGE Model," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1566R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2010.
  26. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2004. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 1-32, 01.
  27. Pablo Fajgelbaum & Edouard Schaal & Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel, 2014. "Uncertainty Traps," NBER Working Papers 19973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2002. "Investment, capacity, and uncertainty: a putty-clay approach," Working Paper Series 2002-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  29. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth Since World War II," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 835-864, August.
  30. Adina Popescu & Frank Rafael Smets, 2010. "Uncertainty, Risk-taking, and the Business Cycle in Germany," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 56(4), pages 596-626, December.
  31. Ruediger Bachmann & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2011. "Business Cycles and Endogenous Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 36, Society for Economic Dynamics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1243. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.