Resource Depletion and Capital Accumulation under Catastrophic Risk: Policy Actions against 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 an optimal strategy by imposing the notion “precautionary tax” on current extraction for preventing a productivity shock driven by stock pollution and a capital subsidy to promote capital accumulation so as to build up a buffer for future consumption opportunities should the threshold be hit. The precautionary tax will internalize the expected welfare loss should a threshold be hit, whereas the capital subsidy will internalize the expected post-catastrophic long-run return from current capital accumulation.