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Pricing the Planet's FutureThe Economics of Discounting in an Uncertain World$
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Christian Gollier

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148762

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148762.001.0001

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The Weitzman Argument

The Weitzman Argument

(p.98) 7 The Weitzman Argument
Pricing the Planet's Future

Christian Gollier

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines a model in which the exogeneous rate of return of capital is constant but random. Safe investment projects must be evaluated and implemented before this uncertainty can be fully revealed, i.e., before knowing the opportunity cost of capital. A simple rule of thumb in this context would be to compute the net present value (NPV) for each possible discount rate, and to implement the project if the expected NPV is positive. If the evaluator uses this approach, this is as if one would discount cash flows at a rate that is decreasing with maturity. This approach is implicitly based on the assumptions that the stakeholders are risk-neutral and transfer the net benefits of the project to an increase in immediate consumption. Opposite results prevail if one assumes that the net benefit is consumed at the maturity of the project.

Keywords:   Weitzman argument, capital, net present value, safe investment, net future value, discount rate, net benefit, safe investment projects

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