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Regulating a Monopolist with Unknown Demand

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  • Lewis, Tracy R
  • Sappington, David E M

Abstract

The authors analyze the optimal regulatory policy when the firm has better information about demand than the regulator from the outset of their relationship. The firm's cost structure is common knowledge, but monitoring of output is prohibitively costly. The authors find that, when marginal production costs increase with output, the firm command s no rents from its private information and the efficient price is established for each realization of demand. In contrast, with declining marginal costs, the same price is established by the regulator for all demand realizations and the firm's rents can be substantial. Overall, major qualitative differences in the optimal regulatory policy arise when the firm's private information concerns demand rather than costs. Copyright 1988 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1988. "Regulating a Monopolist with Unknown Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 986-998, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:78:y:1988:i:5:p:986-98
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
    2. Ingo Vogelsang & Jorg Finsinger, 1979. "A Regulatory Adjustment Process for Optimal Pricing by Multiproduct Monopoly Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 157-171, Spring.
    3. David Sappington, 1983. "Optimal Regulation of a Multiproduct Monopoly with Unknown Technological Capabilities," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 453-463, Autumn.
    4. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 614-641, June.
    5. David P. Baron & David Besanko, 1984. "Regulation, Asymmetric Information, and Auditing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 447-470, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Gary‐Bobo & Yossi Spiegel, 2006. "Optimal state‐contingent regulation under limited liability," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 431-448, June.
    2. Prieger, James E. & Sanders, Nicholas J., 2012. "Verifiable and non-verifiable anonymous mechanisms for regulating a polluting monopolist," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 410-426.
    3. Wang, Gyu Ho, 2000. "Regulating an oligopoly with unknown costs," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 813-825, July.
    4. Barelli, Paulo & Basov, Suren & Bugarin, Mauricio & King, Ian, 2014. "On the optimality of exclusion in multi-dimensional screening," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 74-83.
    5. Jørgensen, Finn & Santos, Georgina, 2014. "Charges on transport – To what extent are they passed on to users?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 183-195.
    6. Osmundsen, Petter, 2002. "Regulation of common property resources under private information about resource externalities," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 349-366, November.
    7. Aguirre, Iñaki & Beitia, Arantza, 2017. "Modelling countervailing incentives in adverse selection models: A synthesis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 82-89.
    8. Berry, S. Keith, 2000. "Stranded costs, access charges, and Ramsey pricing in the U.S. electric utility industry," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 503-517.
    9. Armstrong, Mark, 1999. "Optimal Regulation with Unknown Demand and Cost Functions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 196-215, February.
    10. Norsworthy, J. R. & Tsai, Diana H., 1999. "The role of service quality and capital technology in telecommunication regulation," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 127-145, July.
    11. Jørgensen, Finn & Pedersen, Pål Andreas, 2004. "Travel distance and optimal transport policy," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 415-430, June.
    12. Ayako Suzuki, 2008. "Yardstick Competition to Elicit Private Information: An Empirical Analysis of the Japanese Gas Distribution Industry," ISER Discussion Paper 0709, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    13. Kalu, Timothy Ch. U., 1995. "A uniform profit margin policy and its effects on mineral producing firms The case of the oil industry," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 61-72, March.
    14. Sand, Jan Y., 2012. "Infrastructure quality regulation," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 310-319.
    15. Cowan, Simon, 2004. "Optimal risk allocation for regulated monopolies and consumers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 285-303, January.
    16. Shen, Yuelin & Willems, Sean P., 2012. "Coordinating a channel with asymmetric cost information and the manufacturer's optimality," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 125-135.
    17. Mahenc, Philippe, 2008. "Signaling the environmental performance of polluting products to green consumers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 59-68, January.

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