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Carbon taxes and stranded assets: Evidence from Washington state

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  • Carattini, Stefano
  • Sen, Suphi

Abstract

The climate challenge requires ambitious climate policy. A sudden increase in carbon prices can lead to major shocks to the stock market. Some assets will lose part of their value, others all of it, and hence become “stranded”. If the markets are not ready to absorb the shock, a financial crisis could follow. How well investors anticipate, and thus how large these shocks may be, is an empirical question. We analyze stock market reactions to the rejection of two carbon tax initiatives by voters in Washington state. We build proper counterfactuals for Washington state firms and find that these modest policy proposals with limited jurisdiction caused substantial readjustments on the stock market, especially for carbon-intensive stocks. Our results reinforce concerns about “stranded assets” and the risk of financial contagion. Our policy implications support the inclusion of transition risks in macroprudential policymaking and carbon disclosure and climate stress tests as the main policy responses.

Suggested Citation

  • Carattini, Stefano & Sen, Suphi, 2019. "Carbon taxes and stranded assets: Evidence from Washington state," Economics Working Paper Series 1909, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2019:09
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    Cited by:

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    2. Barbara Annicchiarico & Stefano Carattini & Carolyn Fischer & Garth Heutel, 2022. "Business Cycles and Environmental Policy: A Primer," Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 221-253.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Carbon pricing; financial returns; systemic risk; macroprudential policies; voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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