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: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19475.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19475
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

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. Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús & Guerron-Quintana, Pablo A. & Rubio-Ramírez, Juan Francisco & Uribe, Martín, 2009. "Risk Matters: The Real Effects of Volatility Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7264, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Francois Gourio, 2009. "Disaster risk and business cycles," 2009 Meeting Papers 1176, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Meghir, Costas & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3632, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2004. "Investment, Capacity, and Uncertainty: A Putty-Clay Approach," NBER Working Papers 10446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Fomby, Thomas & Ikeda, Yuki & Loayza, Norman, 2009. "The growth aftermath of natural disasters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5002, The World Bank.
  6. 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.
  7. R?diger Bachmann & Steffen Elstner & Eric R. Sims, 2013. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 217-49, April.
  8. Miklos Koren & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "Volatility and Development," CEP Discussion Papers dp0706, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Pablo Fajgelbaum & Edouard Schaal & Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel, 2014. "Uncertainty Traps," NBER Working Papers 19973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Ravi Bansal & Amir Yaron, 2000. "Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Leonardo Melosi & Francesco Bianchi, 2012. "Dormant Shocks and Fiscal Virtue," 2012 Meeting Papers 44, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. 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.
  14. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Hartman, Richard, 1972. "The effects of price and cost uncertainty on investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 258-266, October.
  16. Yan Carrière–Swallow & Luis Felipe Céspedes, 2011. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks in Emerging Economies," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 646, Central Bank of Chile.
  17. Fatih Guvenen & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2014. "The Nature of Countercyclical Income Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(3), pages 621 - 660.
  18. Hassler, John A. A., 1996. "Variations in risk and fluctuations in demand: A theoretical model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1115-1143.
  19. Matthias Kehrig, 2011. "The Cyclicality of Productivity Dispersion," Working Papers 11-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  20. Schwert, G William, 1989. " Why Does Stock Market Volatility Change over Time?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(5), pages 1115-53, December.
  21. Malkiel, Burton & Campbell, John & Lettau, Martin & Xu, Yexiao, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Scholarly Articles 3128707, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  22. Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn & Veldkamp, Laura, 2006. "Learning asymmetries in real business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 753-772, May.
  23. Ben S. Bernanke, 1980. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," NBER Working Papers 0502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. 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.
  25. Ruediger Bachmann & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2011. "Business Cycles and Endogenous Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 36, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  26. 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.
  27. Hernan Moscoso Boedo & Pablo D'Erasmo, 2013. "Intangibles and Endogenous Firm Volatility over the Business Cycle," 2013 Meeting Papers 97, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Rüdiger Bachmann & Christian Bayer, 2011. "Uncertainty Business Cycles - Really?," NBER Working Papers 16862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. 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.
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:nbr:nberwo:19475. 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.