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Climate Economics Seminar: Discounting and Confidence

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Date(s): September 21, 2011, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Location: Room 4144 EPA West Building, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Contact: Carl Pasurka, 202-566-2275

Presenter: Christian Traeger (Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley)

Description: The paper analyzes the discount rate under uncertainty. The analysis complements the probabilistic characterization of uncertainty by a measure of confidence. Special cases of the model comprise discounting under smooth ambiguity aversion as well as discounting under a disentanglement of risk aversion from aversion to intertemporal substitution. The paper characterizes the general class of preferences for which uncertainty implies a reduction of the discount rate. It also characterizes how the more comprehensive description of uncertainty changes the discount rate with respect to the standard model. The paper relates different results in the literature by switching between different risk measures. It presents a parametric extension of the Ramsey discounting formula that takes into account confidence into future growth estimates and a measure of aversion to the lack of confidence. If confidence decreases in the futurity of the growth forecast, the discount rates have a falling term structure even in the case of an iid growth process.

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