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Inefficiencies and Market Power in Financial Arbitrage: A Study of California’s Electricity Markets

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  • Christopher Knittel
  • Catherine Wolfram
  • James Bushnell
  • Severin Borenstein

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

As with other commodities, electricity is often traded on both forward and spot markets. This was initially true in the restructured California electricity industry from 1998 to 2000. Though the power traded in the forward and spot markets was for delivery at the same times and locations, prices often differed in significant and predictable ways. We consider several explanations for this apparent inefficiency, concluding that uncertainty about regulatory penalties for trading in the spot market caused most firms to avoid trading on inter-market price differences. The few firms that did carry out these trades did not find it profit-maximizing to eliminate the price differences. Skyrocketing prices in the summer of 2000, however, changed the major buyers’ (utilities’) incentives and increased the price differentials between the markets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 630.

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Length: 44
Date of creation: 16 Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:06-30

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Keywords: market;

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References

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  1. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
  3. Parsley, David C & Wei, Shang-Jin, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-36, November.
  4. Bushnell, James & Mansur, Erin T., 2005. "Consumption Under Noisy Price Signals: A Study of Electricity Retail Rate Deregulation in San Diego," Staff General Research Papers 13142, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Zitzewitz, Eric, 2002. "Who Cares About Shareholders? Arbitrage-Proofing Mutual Funds," Research Papers 1749, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  6. Francis A. Longstaff & Ashley W. Wang, 2004. "Electricity Forward Prices: A High-Frequency Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1877-1900, 08.
  7. Kaminsky, Graciela, 1993. "Is There a Peso Problem? Evidence from the Dollar/Pound Exchange Rate, 1976-1987," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 450-72, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Severin Borenstein, 2007. "Customer Risk from Real-Time Retail Electricity Pricing: Bill Volatility and Hedgability," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 111-130.
  2. Rammerstorfer, Margarethe & Wagner, Christian, 2009. "Reforming minute reserve policy in Germany: A step towards efficient markets?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 3513-3519, September.
  3. Lazarczyk, Ewa, 2013. "Market Specific News and Its Impact on Electricity Prices – Forward Premia," Working Paper Series 953, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 20 Aug 2013.

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