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Investments of Uncertain Cost

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  • Robert S. Pindyck

Abstract

I study irreversible investment decisions when projects take time to complete, and are subject to two types of uncertainty over the cost of completion. The first is technical uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty over the amount of time, effort, and materials that will ultimately be required to complete the project, and that is only resolved as the investment proceeds. The second is input cost uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty over the prices and quantities of labor and materials required, and which is external to the firm's investment activity. I derive a simple decision rule that maximizes the firm's value, and I use it to show how these two types of uncertainty have very different effects on investment decisions. As an example. I analyze the decision to start or continue building a nuclear power plant during the 1980's.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4175.

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Date of creation: Nov 1993
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Publication status: published as "Journal of Financial Economics" vol. 34, pp. 53-76, (1993)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4175

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  1. Saman Majd & Robert S. Pindyck, 1987. "The Learning Curve and Optimal Production Under Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 2423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. M. L. Weitzman & K. Roberts, 1979. "Funding Criteria for Research, Development and Exploration Projects," Working papers 234, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "Consumer Spending and the After-Tax Real Interest Rate," NBER Chapters, in: Taxes and Capital Formation, pages 97-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert S. Pindyck, 1991. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 3307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 85-106, February.
  6. Zeira, Joseph, 1987. "Investment as a Process of Search," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 204-10, February.
  7. Saman Majd & Robert S. Pindyck, 1987. "Time to Build, Option Value, and Investment Decisions," NBER Working Papers 1654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. McDonald, Robert & Siegel, Daniel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-27, November.
  9. Martin L. Weitzman & Whitney Newey & Michael Rabin, 1981. "Sequential R&D Strategy for Synfuels," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 574-590, Autumn.
  10. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
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