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Date(s) - April 13, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Join the Department of Economics and Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (DARE) for our Spring 2022 Seminar Series.

Wednesday, April 13| 12-1 p.m.

Zoom Link:

Christian Gollier

Research Faculty, Toulouse School of Economics

Learn more:

“The Welfare Cost of Ignoring the Beta”


Because of risk aversion, any sensible investment valuation system should value less projects that contribute more to the aggregate risk, i.e., that have a larger income- elasticity of net benefits. In theory, this is done by adjusting discount rates to consumption betas. But in reality, for various reasons (Arrow-Lind and WACC fallacies, market failures), most public and private institutions and people use a discount rate that is rather insensitive to the risk profile of their investment projects. I show in this pa- per that the economic consequences of the implied misallocation of capital are dire. To do this, I calibrate a Lucas model in which the investment opportunity set contains a myriad of projects with different expected returns and risk profiles. The welfare loss of using a single discount rate is equivalent to a permanent reduction in consumption that lies somewhere between 15% and 45%, either at the level of the irrational agents, or at equilibrium if all agents make the same mistake. Economists should devote more energy to support a reform of public discounting systems in favor of what has been advocated by the normative interpretation of modern asset pricing theories over the last four decades.