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Irreversible investment with uncertainty and scale economies

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  • Avinash Dixit

Abstract

This paper analyses optimal irreversible investment policy when profits are subject to a multiplicative geometric Brownian motion shock. The marginal product of capital is increasing initially and decreasing thereafter. In the latter range, optimal policy is familiar: capacity is added gradually as the shock rises to a threshold where the expected return on the marginal unit is a required multiple of the cost of capital. The multiple reflects the option value of waiting. The optimal policy in the increasing marginal product range obeys the same multiple, now applied to the total return on the discrete increase in capital. Implications for economic growth, and suboptimal equilibria under external economies, are examined.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19372/
File Function: Open access version.
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19372.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 1992
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19372

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Keywords: Scale economies; uncertainty; optimal irreversible investment policy; capital; economic growth; profits;

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  1. Bartolini, Leonardo, 1993. "Competitive runs : The case of a ceiling on aggregate investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 921-948, June.
  2. Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Irreversibility, uncertainty, and investment," Working papers 3137-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  3. Pindyck, Robert S., 1986. "Irreversible investment, capacity choice, and the value of the firm," Working papers 1802-86., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Entry and Exit Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 620-38, June.
  5. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
  6. Brennan, Michael J & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1985. "Evaluating Natural Resource Investments," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 135-57, April.
  7. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  8. Skiba, A K, 1978. "Optimal Growth with a Convex-Concave Production Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 527-39, May.
  9. McDonald, Robert L & Siegel, Daniel R, 1985. "Investment and the Valuation of Firms When There Is an Option to Shut Down," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(2), pages 331-49, June.
  10. Weitzman, Martin L, 1970. "Optimal Growth with Scale Economies in the Creation of Overhead Capital," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 555-70, October.
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