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The Effect of Uncertainty on Investment: Evidence from Texas Oil Drilling

  • Ryan Kellogg

This paper estimates the response of investment to changes in uncertainty using data on oil drilling in Texas and the expected volatility of the future price of oil. Using a dynamic model of firms' investment problem, I find that: (1) the response of drilling activity to changes in price volatility has a magnitude consistent with the optimal response prescribed by theory, (2) the cost of failing to respond to volatility shocks is economically significant, and (3) implied volatility data derived from futures options prices yields a better fit to firms' investment behavior than backward-looking volatility measures such as GARCH.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 104 (2014)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
Pages: 1698-1734

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:6:p:1698-1734
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.6.1698
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  1. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Pablo Guerron-Quintana & Juan F. Rubio-Ramírez & Martin Uribe, 2009. "Risk Matters: The Real Effects of Volatility Shocks," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Wiggins, Steven N & Libecap, Gary D, 1985. "Oil Field Unitization: Contractual Failure in the Presence of Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 368-85, June.
  3. Steffen Elstner & Eric Sims & Ruediger Bachmann, 2010. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," 2010 Meeting Papers 614, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Ryan Kellogg, 2011. "Learning by Drilling: Interfirm Learning and Relationship Persistence in the Texas Oilpatch," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1961-2004.
  5. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz, 2007. "What Do We Learn from the Price of Crude Oil Futures?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Nicholas Bloom & Max Floetotto & Nir Jaimovich & Itay Saporta-Eksten & Stephen Terry, 2013. "Really uncertain business cycles," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51526, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Leahy, John V & Whited, Toni M, 1996. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Investment: Some Stylized Facts," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(1), pages 64-83, February.
  8. Pindyck, Robert S, 1991. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 1110-48, September.
  9. Nick Bloom & Stephen Bond & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Uncertainty and Investment Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 391-415.
  10. John A. List & Michael S. Haigh, 2010. "Investment under Uncertainty: Testing the Options Model with Professional Traders," NBER Working Papers 16038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2009. "Uncertain Times, uncertain measures," Working Papers tecipa-352, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  12. John Hassler, . "Variations in Risk and Fluctuations in Demand - a theoretical model," Homapage Papers _003, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  13. Hull, John C & White, Alan D, 1987. " The Pricing of Options on Assets with Stochastic Volatilities," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 42(2), pages 281-300, June.
  14. Timothy Dunne & Xiaoyi Mu, 2008. "Investment spikes and uncertainty in the petroleum refining industry," Working Paper 0805, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  15. Allan Collard‐Wexler, 2013. "Demand Fluctuations in the Ready‐Mix Concrete Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 1003-1037, 05.
  16. Szakmary, Andrew & Ors, Evren & Kyoung Kim, Jin & Davidson, Wallace III, 2003. "The predictive power of implied volatility: Evidence from 35 futures markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(11), pages 2151-2175, November.
  17. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
  18. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Hassler, John, 2001. " Uncertainty and the Timing of Automobile Purchases," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(2), pages 351-66, June.
  20. Ser-Huang Poon & Clive W.J. Granger, 2003. "Forecasting Volatility in Financial Markets: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(2), pages 478-539, June.
  21. James L. Paddock & Daniel R. Siegel & James L. Smith, 1988. "Option Valuation of Claims on Real Assets: The Case of Offshore Petroleum Leases," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 479-508.
  22. Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-69, June.
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