Whilst models of the environment and particularly of the climate have come to be ones of evolving complex systems with non-linear dynamics and complicated feedbacks, macroeconomic models have remained essentially in an equilibrium framework in which the only major changes that can occur are the result of exogenous shocks. I explain why this has been the route taken by macroeconomists However, the purpose of this paper is to suggest that, in fact, the economy shares many of the features of the environment and that it should also be viewed as a complex system which experiences major, sudden and sometimes catastrophic, changes. These changes are largely due to the evolution of the system and not to some outside influence. However, in the anthropocene era we have to take account of the co-evolution of two complex systems, the environment and the economy, and the economic models that have been proposed in “integrated” models do not capture the complexity of the economy nor of its interactions with the environment. To successfully do this will provide a better explanation of the evolution of the economy but will mean that economists have to be much more modest their claims.
We review an extensive literature debating the merits of alternative priority structures for banking liabilities put forward by financial economists, legal scholars and policymakers. Up to now, this work has focused exclusively on the relative advantages of each group of creditors to monitor the activities of bankers. We argue that systemic risk is another dimension that this discussion must include. The main message of our work is that when bank failures are contagious then when regulators assign priority rights need also to take into account how the bankruptcy resolution of one institution might affect the survival of other institutions that have acted as its creditors. When the network structure is fixed the solution is straightforward. Other banks should have priority to minimize the risk of their downfall. However, if the choice of policy can affect the structure of the network, policy design becomes more complex.This is a fruitful avenue for future research.
We study an optimal AK-like model of capital accumulation and growth in the presence of a negative environmental externality in the tradition of Stokey (Int Econ Rev 39(1):1–31, 1998). Both production and consumption activities generate polluting waste. The economy exerts a recycling effort to reduce the stock of waste. Recycling also generates income, which is fully devoted to capital accumulation. The whole problem amounts to choosing the optimal control paths for consumption and recycling to maximize a social welfare function that notably includes the waste stock and disutility from the recycling effort. We provide a mathematical analysis of both the asymptotic behavior of the optimal trajectories and the shape of transition dynamics. Numerical exercises are performed to illustrate the analysis and to highlight some of the economic implications of the model. The results suggest that when recycling acts as an income generator, (1) a contraction of both the consumption and capital stock is observed in the long run after an expansion phase; (2) whether polluting waste is predominantly due to production or consumption, greater consumption and lower capital stock are obtained in the long run compared with the situation when recycling does not create additional income; (3) greater recycling effort and lower stock of waste are resulted in the long run.
Natural disasters due to climate change (like floods, hurricanes, heat waves or droughts) combine a risk of large losses and a low probability of occurrence, requiring decisions to be made in uncertain universes. However, the inability of standard decision under uncertainty models to provide rankings when some outcomes are catastrophic impedes rational (public) decision-making. This paper examines the role of emotions in individuals’ choices among alternatives involving catastrophic events, either in real life (flooding) or artificial (laboratory experiment) situations. We report a survey on 599 respondents aimed at determining how people exposed to different levels of flood risk form beliefs and make decisions under uncertainty before and after emotion-generating events. Data on their emotions, the emotions they expect to experience, their personality and psychological determinants, their symptoms before and after emotion-generating events are collected and analyzed. In parallel with this survey, experimental protocols replicate the emotional experience of a catastrophe and measure its impact on behavior and formation of beliefs. Emotions are induced by framing effects and measured through a self-declared worry scale. We collect behavioral data (insurance choice, subjective beliefs, performance) and measure how they are affected by the emotions felt during the decision-making. These protocols test some assumptions in the survey using experimental paradigms from psychophysics that allow us to control the sources of uncertainty experienced by the subjects. Results confirm that emotions connected with the nature of the risk can significantly affect desire to reduce it. The survey provides valuable material for comparative analysis, revealing how actual experience of an anticipated event affects decisions. The experiments show that emotions affect the decision-making process and the forming of probabilistic beliefs.