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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. Hellwig, Christian & Veldkamp, Laura, 2007. "Knowing What Others Know: Coordination Motives in Information Acquisition," CEPR Discussion Papers 6506, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Mondria, Jordi, 2010. "Portfolio choice, attention allocation, and price comovement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1837-1864, September.
  3. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Information Rigidity and the Expectations Formation Process: A Simple Framework and New Facts," Working Papers 102, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  4. Mirko Wiederholt & Bartosz Mackowiak, 2005. "Optimal Sticky Prices under Rational Inattention," 2005 Meeting Papers 369, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Xavier Gabaix, 2008. "Variable Rare Disasters: An Exactly Solved Framework for Ten Puzzles in Macro-Finance," NBER Working Papers 13724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bartosz Mackowiak & Mirko Wiederholt, 2008. "Business Cycle Dynamics under Rational Inattention," 2008 Meeting Papers 1059, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Mirko Wiederholt & Emanuel Moench & Bartosz Maćkowiak, 2009. "Sectoral Price Data and Models of Price Setting," 2009 Meeting Papers 666, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Yulei Luo, 2008. "Consumption Dynamics under Information Processing Constraints," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 366-385, April.
  9. Filip Matejka, 2010. "Rigid Pricing and Rationally Inattentive Consumer," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp409, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  10. Filip Matejka, 2010. "Rationally Inattentive Seller: Sales and Discrete Pricing," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp408, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  11. Luigi Paciello, 2009. "Monetary Policy and Price Responsiveness to Aggregate Shocks under Rational Inattention," EIEF Working Papers Series 0916, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2011.
  12. Barro, Robert, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 3208215, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Marcin Kacperczyk & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Laura Veldkamp, 2009. "Rational Attention Allocation Over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 15450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Antonella Tutino, 2013. "Rationally inattentive consumption choices," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(3), pages 421-439, July.
  15. Luigi Paciello & Mirko Wiederholt, 2014. "Exogenous Information, Endogenous Information, and Optimal Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 356-388.
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