Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Year 2036 Offers a Test of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis

Richard Posner has taught me to worry about big asteroids hitting our planet. I was focused on other concerns (like journal revise and resubmits) until I read his book. As NASA continues to update its probability assessment of the likelihood that this big rock called Apophis will hit our planet how will asset prices move? Now we know that the big date is 4-13-2036, I will be a spry 70 year old at that time. My young wife will be 72. We all know that prices of assets today reflect our time t best assessment of future events. If this asteroid cuts off the future and creates a "Cap T at 2036", some stocks should fall in value in 2035. If we believe that this will be end of the world but we believe that this event has a 1/250,000 chance of taking place, how does the price of assets decline as 2036 approaches? Where is Bruce Willis when you need him? Recall that he knows how to deflect an asteroid. Perhaps heading it like a soccer ball?

NASA downgrades threat of large asteroid

LOS ANGELES – Earth can breathe a sigh of relief.

NASA on Wednesday downgraded the odds of an 885-foot asteroid striking the planet in 2036.

Scientists initially believed there was a 1-in-45,000 chance that Apophis could hit the planet on April 13, 2036. But the threat was lowered to a 1-in-250,000 chance after researchers recalculated the asteroid's path.

"It wasn't anything to worry about before. Now it's even less so," said Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Chesley and his colleagues refined the asteroid's orbit after an astronomer in Hawaii analyzed previously unreleased images that gave scientists a better idea of Apophis' position.

Earth got a scare in 2004 when initial measurements suggested the newly discovered Apophis seemed to have a chance of hitting the planet in 2029. Further observations ruled out any possibility of an impact.

Scientists are tracking Apophis, which is slated to come within 18,300 miles above Earth's surface in 2029.