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Prices vs. Quantities vs. Tradable Quantities

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  • Roberton Williams

Abstract

This paper extends Weitzman's (1974) seminal paper comparing price and quantity instruments for regulation to consider a third option: tradable quantity regulations, such as tradable permits. Contrary to what prior work has suggested, fixed quantities may be more efficient than tradable quantities if the regulated goods are not perfect substitutes, even when trading ratios are based on the ratio of expected marginal benefits between goods, not simply one-for-one. Indeed, when benefits are independent across goods, or when the goods are complements, tradable quantities are never the most efficient instrument. This theory is applied to dynamic pollution problems, and suggests that permit banking should be allowed for stock pollutants, but not for flow pollutants. These results indicate that many regulations, including the current sulfur dioxide trading program and proposed greenhouse gas regulations, are inefficient.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9283.

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Date of creation: Oct 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9283

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  1. Alessandra Casella, 1999. "Tradable deficit permits:efficient implementation of the Stability Pact in the European Monetary Union," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 14(29), pages 321-362, October.
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  3. Kling, Catherine L. & Rubin, Jonathan, 1997. "Bankable Permits for the Control of Environmental Pollution," Staff General Research Papers 1479, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  5. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Regulating stock externalities under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(2, Supple), pages 416-432, March.
  6. Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2001. "Taxes versus Quotas for a Stock Pollutant," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5fx9p7kf, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  7. Stavins, Robert N., 1996. "Correlated Uncertainty and Policy Instrument Choice," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 218-232, March.
  8. McGartland, Albert M. & Oates, Wallace E., 1985. "Marketable permits for the prevention of environmental deterioration," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 207-228, September.
  9. Montero, Juan-Pablo, 2001. "Multipollutant Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(4), pages 762-74, Winter.
  10. Vickrey, William, 1993. "Today's Task for Economists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 1-10, March.
  11. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1997. "On the Superiority of Corrective Taxes to Quantity Regulation," NBER Working Papers 6251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Weitzman, Martin L, 1978. "Optimal Rewards for Economic Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 683-91, September.
  13. Adar, Zvi & Griffin, James M., 1976. "Uncertainty and the choice of pollution control instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 178-188, October.
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  15. Vickrey, William, 1992. "Chock-Full Employment without Increased Inflation: A Proposal for Marketable Markup Warrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 341-45, May.
  16. Andrew Yates, 2002. "Decentralization in Pollution Permit Markets," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(4), pages 641-660, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Anthony Heyes & Sandeep Kapur, 2010. "Regulating Altruistic Agents," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 1010, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  2. Harrison Fell & Ian A. MacKenzie & William A. Pizer, 2012. "Prices versus Quantities versus Bankable Quantities," NBER Working Papers 17878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Juan-Pablo Montero, 2004. "Pollution markets with imperfectly observed emissions," Working Papers 0414, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  4. Lawrence H. Goulder & William A. Pizer, 2006. "The Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 11923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Webster, Mort & Sue Wing, Ian & Jakobovits, Lisa, 2010. "Second-best instruments for near-term climate policy: Intensity targets vs. the safety valve," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 250-259, May.
  6. Richard Newell & William Pizer & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Managing Permit Markets to Stabilize Prices," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 31(2), pages 133-157, 06.
  7. Pezzey, John C.V. & Jotzo, Frank, 2010. "Tax-Versus-Trading and Free Emission Shares as Issues for Climate Policy Design," Research Reports 95049, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
  8. Frank C. Krysiak & Iris Maria Oberauner, 2008. "Environmental Policy à la Carte: Letting Firms Choose their Regulation," Working papers 2008/03, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  9. Stephen Holland & Andrew J. Yates, 2014. "Optimal Trading Ratios for Pollution Permit Markets," NBER Working Papers 19780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Oikonomou, Vlasis & Jepma, Catrinus & Becchis, Franco & Russolillo, Daniele, 2008. "White Certificates for energy efficiency improvement with energy taxes: A theoretical economic model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 3044-3062, November.
  11. Iris Maria Oberauner, 2010. "Prices vs. Quantities: An Empirical Study of Firms' Instrument Choice," Working papers 2010/07, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

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