Pricing the Planet's Future: The Economics of Discounting in an Uncertain World

Princeton University Press
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Our path of economic development has generated a growing list of environmental problems including the disposal of nuclear waste, exhaustion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and polluted land, air, and water. All these environmental problems raise the crucial challenge of determining what we should and should not do for future generations. It is also central to other policy debates, including, for example, the appropriate level of public debt, investment in public infrastructure, investment in education, and the level of funding for pension benefits and for research and development. Today, the judge, the citizen, the politician, and the entrepreneur are concerned with the sustainability of our development. The objective of Pricing the Planet's Future is to provide a simple framework to organize the debate on what we should do for the future.

A key element of analysis by economists is the discount rate--the minimum rate of return required from an investment project to make it desirable to implement. Christian Gollier outlines the basic theory of the discount rate and the various arguments that favor using a smaller discount rate for more distant cash flows.

With principles that can be applied to many policy areas, Pricing the Planet's Future offers an ideal framework for dynamic problems and decision making.

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About the author

Christian Gollier is professor of economics at the University of Toulouse and director of the Toulouse School of Economics. He is the author of The Economics of Risk and Time and the coauthor of Economic and Financial Decisions under Risk (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 11, 2012
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781400845408
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development
Business & Economics / Development / Sustainable Development
Business & Economics / Environmental Economics
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
Political Science / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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For all of their focus on asset prices, financial economists rarely ask if assets are priced ethically—that is, if their prices are compatible with the public good. Yet in a world facing major, possibly catastrophic problems—global warming, for instance, and growing inequality—it is now more important than ever that we allocate capital to projects that will benefit society as a whole, not just today but far into the future. In this book, Christian Gollier develops a powerful method for transforming our societal goals of collective prosperity into the cornerstone of our financial decision making.

Ethical Asset Valuation and the Good Society starts by stating transparent moral principles and, from these, derives simple rules that can be used to evaluate saving and investment decisions in terms of the public good. Rather than trying to explain observed asset prices, Gollier derives what these prices ought to be in order to direct capital toward socially desirable investments. He focuses especially on the two prices that drive most financial decisions—the price of time as reflected in the interest rate and the price of risk—and explores the role these play in our long-term planning. If investment projects in renewable energy could be financed at a lower interest rate than those linked to fossil fuels, for instance, the energy transition would be easier to accomplish. Building on criticism of the short-term thinking of financial markets, Gollier suggests ways to shift investment toward the future through the discounting of the valuation of assets and investments with long-term benefits. In this sophisticated but accessible work, Gollier builds a bridge between welfare economics and finance theory to provide a framework for ethical valuation capable of establishing what asset prices should be on the basis of our shared moral values.
For all of their focus on asset prices, financial economists rarely ask if assets are priced ethically—that is, if their prices are compatible with the public good. Yet in a world facing major, possibly catastrophic problems—global warming, for instance, and growing inequality—it is now more important than ever that we allocate capital to projects that will benefit society as a whole, not just today but far into the future. In this book, Christian Gollier develops a powerful method for transforming our societal goals of collective prosperity into the cornerstone of our financial decision making.

Ethical Asset Valuation and the Good Society starts by stating transparent moral principles and, from these, derives simple rules that can be used to evaluate saving and investment decisions in terms of the public good. Rather than trying to explain observed asset prices, Gollier derives what these prices ought to be in order to direct capital toward socially desirable investments. He focuses especially on the two prices that drive most financial decisions—the price of time as reflected in the interest rate and the price of risk—and explores the role these play in our long-term planning. If investment projects in renewable energy could be financed at a lower interest rate than those linked to fossil fuels, for instance, the energy transition would be easier to accomplish. Building on criticism of the short-term thinking of financial markets, Gollier suggests ways to shift investment toward the future through the discounting of the valuation of assets and investments with long-term benefits. In this sophisticated but accessible work, Gollier builds a bridge between welfare economics and finance theory to provide a framework for ethical valuation capable of establishing what asset prices should be on the basis of our shared moral values.
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