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The Economic and Policy Consequences of Catastrophes

  • Robert S. Pindyck

What is the likelihood that the U.S. will experience a devastating catastrophic event over the next few decades – something that would substantially reduce the capital stock, GDP and wealth? What does the possibility of such an event imply for the behavior of economic variables such as investment, interest rates, and equity prices? And how much should society be willing to pay to reduce the probability or likely impact of such an event? We address these questions using a general equilibrium model that describes production, capital accumulation, and household preferences, and includes as an integral part the possible arrival of catastrophic shocks. Calibrating the model to average values of economic and financial variables yields estimates of the implied expected mean arrival rate and impact distribution of catastrophic shocks. We also use the model to calculate the tax on consumption society would accept to reduce the probability or impact of a shock.

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Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in its series Working Papers with number 0912.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:mee:wpaper:0912
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  1. Francois Gourio, 2008. "Disasters and Recoveries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 68-73, May.
  2. Xavier Gabaix, 2012. "Variable Rare Disasters: An Exactly Solved Framework for Ten Puzzles in Macro-Finance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 645-700.
  3. M. Fatih Guvenen, 2002. "Reconciling Conflicting Evidence on the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution: A Macroeconomic Perspective," RCER Working Papers 491, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER), revised Mar 2003.
  4. Jessica Wachter, 2008. "Can time-varying risk of rare disasters explain aggregate stock market volatility?," 2008 Meeting Papers 944, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Barro, Robert, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 3208215, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "Reconciling Cyclical Movements in the Marginal Value of Time and the Marginal Product of Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 281-323, 04.
  7. 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.
  8. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  9. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "Subjective Expectations and Asset-Return Puzzles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1102-1130, September.
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  1. The Economic and Policy Consequences of Catastrophes (AEJ:EP 2013) in ReplicationWiki

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