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Inattention to Rare Events

  • Mackowiak, Bartosz Adam
  • Wiederholt, Mirko

Why were people so unprepared for the global financial crisis, the European debt crisis, and the Fukushima nuclear accident? To address this question, we study a model in which agents make state-contingent plans - think about actions in different contingencies - subject to the constraint that agents can process only a limited amount of information. The model predicts that agents are unprepared in a state when the state has a low probability, the optimal action in that state is uncorrelated with the optimal action in normal times, and actions are strategic complements. We then compare the equilibrium allocation of attention to the efficient allocation of attention. We characterize analytically the conditions under which society would be better off if agents thought more carefully about optimal actions in rare events.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8626.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8626
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  1. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2015. "Information Rigidity and the Expectations Formation Process: A Simple Framework and New Facts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2644-78, August.
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  4. Maćkowiak, Bartosz & Moench, Emanuel & Wiederholt, Mirko, 2009. "Sectoral price data and models of price setting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(S), pages S78-S99.
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  22. Luigi Paciello & Mirko Wiederholt, 2011. "Exogenous Information, Endogenous Information and Optimal Monetary Policy," EIEF Working Papers Series 1104, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jan 2011.
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