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Indexed Regulation

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  • Newell, Richard G.

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Pizer, William A.

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Seminal work by Weitzman (1974) revealed that prices are preferred to quantities when marginal benefits are relatively flat compared to marginal costs. We extend this comparison to indexed policies, where quantities are proportional to an index, such as output. We find that policy preferences hinge on additional parameters describing the first and second moments of the index and the ex post optimal quantity level. When the ratio of these variables’ coefficients of variation divided by their correlation is less than two, indexed quantities are preferred to fixed quantities. A slightly more complex condition determines when indexed quantities are preferred to prices. Applied to the case of climate change, we find that quantities indexed to GDP are preferred to fixed quantities for about half of the 19 largest emitters, including the United States and China, while (consistent with previous work) prices dominate for all countries.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-06-32.

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Date of creation: 20 Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-06-32

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Keywords: price; quantity; regulation; uncertainty; policy; environment; climate change;

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  1. M. L. Weitzman, 1973. "Prices vs. Quantities," Working papers 106, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Suzi Kerr & Richard G. Newell, 2003. "Policy-Induced Technology Adoption: Evidence from the U.S. Lead Phasedown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 317-343, 09.
  3. 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.
  4. Frank Jotzo & John Pezzey, 2007. "Optimal intensity targets for greenhouse gas emissions trading under uncertainty," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 38(2), pages 259-284, October.
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  8. 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.
  9. Richard G. Newell & William A. Pizer, 2008. "Indexed Regulation," NBER Working Papers 13991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Yohe, Gary W, 1978. "Towards a General Comparison of Price Controls and Quantity Controls under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 229-38, June.
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  13. Pizer, William, 2005. "The Case for Intensity Targets," Discussion Papers dp-05-02, Resources For the Future.
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  15. Neuhoff, K. & von Hirschhausen, C., 2005. "Long-term vs. Short-term Contracts; A European perspective on natural gas," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0539, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  16. Weitzman, Martin L, 1978. "Optimal Rewards for Economic Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 683-91, September.
  17. Roberts, Marc J. & Spence, Michael, 1976. "Effluent charges and licenses under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 193-208.
  18. Robert N. Stavins, 1998. "What Can We Learn from the Grand Policy Experiment? Lessons from SO2 Allowance Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 69-88, Summer.
  19. Chung-Lun Li & Panos Kouvelis, 1999. "Flexible and Risk-Sharing Supply Contracts Under Price Uncertainty," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(10), pages 1378-1398, October.
  20. Knut K. Aase, 2004. "A Pricing Model for Quantity Contracts," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 71(4), pages 617-642.
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