May 2020

Uncertainty and Growth Disasters

Boyan Jovanovic and Sai Ma


This paper documents several stylized facts on the real effects of economic uncertainty. First, higher uncertainty is associated with a more dispersed and negatively skewed distribution of output growth. Second, the response of economic growth to an increase in uncertainty is highly nonlinear and asymmetric. Third, higher asset volatility magni…es the negative impact of uncertainty on growth. We develop and estimate an analytically tractable model in which rapid adoption of new technology may raise economic uncertainty which causes measured productivity to decline. The equilibrium growth distribution is negatively skewed and higher uncertainty leads to a thicker left tail.

Keywords: Uncertainty and growth, volatility, downside risk, growth at risk


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Last Update: May 07, 2020