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Prices vs. Quantities: The Irrelevance of Irreversibility


  • Fridrik M. Baldursson
  • Nils-Henrik M. von der Fehr


We explore the efficacy of price and quantity controls in a dynamic setup in which the decisions of some agents are irreversible. The assumption of irreversibility is shown to improve the performance of a tax relative to that of a system of tradable quotas and significantly alter the equilibrium behavior of agents. We nevertheless conclude that taking into account the fact that agents' decisions may be irreversible does not lead to policy implications significantly different from those reached in a simpler model in which irreversibility is ignored. Copyright The editors of the "Scandinavian Journal of Economics", 2004 .

Suggested Citation

  • Fridrik M. Baldursson & Nils-Henrik M. von der Fehr, 2004. "Prices vs. Quantities: The Irrelevance of Irreversibility," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(4), pages 805-821, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:106:y:2004:i:4:p:805-821

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1997. "Destabilizing effects of exchange-rate escape clauses," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1-2), pages 61-77, August.
    3. Bensaid, Bernard & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "The instability of fixed exchange rate systems when raising the nominal interest rate is costly," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1461-1478, August.
    4. Claessens, Stijn, 1991. "Balance of payments crises in an optimal portfolio model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 81-101, January.
    5. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    6. Flood, Robert P. & Garber, Peter M., 1984. "Collapsing exchange-rate regimes : Some linear examples," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-13, August.
    7. Grilli, Vittorio U., 1986. "Buying and selling attacks on fixed exchange rate systems," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 143-156, February.
    8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Sara Calvo, 1996. "Capital Flows to Latin America: Is There Evidence of Contagion Effects?," Peterson Institute Press: Chapters,in: Guillermo A. Calvo & Morris Goldstein & Eduard Hochreiter (ed.), Private Capital Flows to Emerging Markets After the Mexican Crisis, pages 151-171 Peterson Institute for International Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ces:ifodic:v:5:y:2007:i:4:p:14567295 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Crépin, Anne-Sophie & Norberg, Jon & Mäler, Karl-Göran, 2011. "Coupled economic-ecological systems with slow and fast dynamics -- Modelling and analysis method," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1448-1458, June.
    3. Fridrik Baldursson & Nils-Henrik Fehr, 2012. "Price Volatility and Risk Exposure: On the Interaction of Quota and Product Markets," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 52(2), pages 213-233, June.
    4. Zhao, Jinhua, 2003. "Irreversible abatement investment under cost uncertainties: tradable emission permits and emissions charges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2765-2789, December.
    5. Michael Grubb, 2007. "The European Emissions Trading Scheme: An Overview of Operations and Lessons," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 5(4), pages 17-25, 06.
    6. Villegas, Clara & Coria, Jessica, 2009. "Taxes, Permits, and the Adoptation of Abatement Technology under Imperfect Compliance," Discussion Papers dp-09-20-efd, Resources For the Future.
    7. Baldursson, Fridrik M & von der Fehr, N.-H.M.Nils-Henrik M, 2004. "Price volatility and risk exposure: on market-based environmental policy instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 682-704, July.
    8. Clara Villegas-Palacio & Jessica Coria, 2010. "On the interaction between imperfect compliance and technology adoption: taxes versus tradable emissions permits," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 274-291, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)


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