Resource Depletion and Capital Accumulation under Catastrophic Risk: The Role of Stochastic Thresholds and Stock Pollution
Eric Nævdal and Jon Vislie
An intertemporal optimal strategy for accumulation of reversible capital and management of an exhaustible resource is analyzed for a global economy when resource depletion generates discharges that add to a stock pollutant that affects the likelihood for hitting a tipping point or threshold of unknown location, causing a random“disembodied technical regress”. We characterize the optimal strategy by imposing the notion “precautionary tax” on current extraction. Such a tax will internalize future expected damages or expected welfare loss should a threshold be hit. With reversible capital the presence of a stochastic threshold should speed up accumulation as long as no threshold is hit so as to build up a buffer or stock for future consumption should a threshold be hit.