Discounting with fat-tailed economic growth

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When the growth of aggregate consumption exhibits no serial correlation, the socially efficient discount rate is independent of the time horizon, because the wealth effect and the precautionary effect are proportional to the time horizon. In this paper, we consider alternative growth processes: an AR(1), a Brownian motion with unknown trend or volatility, a two-state regime-switching model, and a model with an uncertain return of capital. All these models exhibit some persistence of shocks on the growth rate of the economy and fat tails, which implies that one should discount more distant costs and benefits at a smaller rate.

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