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The elephant in Hotelling's room

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  • Hart, Rob
  • Spiro, Daniel

Abstract

This paper questions the assumption, commonly used in theoretical and policy research, that scarcity rents make up a large proportion of market prices for oil and coal. We show that the empirical literature, simple calculations of historical and future scarcity rent shares, and possible theoretical explanations all imply the same overall conclusions: that scarcity rents seem to have been marginal or non-existent historically; that they almost certainly do not dominate fossil resource prices today; and that there will be other factors shaping the prices in the upcoming decades. We therefore argue that using the scarcity rent as the main or only basis for policy or for explaining empirical outcomes is ill-advised.

Suggested Citation

  • Hart, Rob & Spiro, Daniel, 2011. "The elephant in Hotelling's room," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7834-7838.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:12:p:7834-7838
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.09.029
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    5. van der Meijden, Gerard & van der Ploeg, Frederick & Withagen, Cees, 2015. "International capital markets, oil producers and the Green Paradox," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 275-297.
    6. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2018. "Difficulties in the forecasting of iron ore price: a review," MPRA Paper 87881, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 12 Jul 2018.
    7. Conny Olovsson, 2019. "Oil prices in a general equilibrium model with precautionary demand for oil," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 32, pages 1-17, April.
    8. Haftendorn, C. & Kemfert, C. & Holz, F., 2012. "What about coal? Interactions between climate policies and the global steam coal market until 2030," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 274-283.
    9. Casey, Gregory, "undated". "Energy Efficiency and Directed Technical Change: Implications for Climate Change Mitigation," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 259959, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Stuermer, Martin & Schwerhoff, Gregor, 2013. "Technological change in resource extraction and endogenous growth," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers 12/2013, University of Bonn, Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE).
    11. Hart, Rob, 2016. "Non-renewable resources in the long run," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 1-20.
    12. Roberto Ferreira da Cunha & Antoine Missemer, 2020. "The Hotelling rule in non‐renewable resource economics: A reassessment," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(2), pages 800-820, May.
    13. Goldemberg, José & Schaeffer, Roberto & Szklo, Alexandre & Lucchesi, Rodrigo, 2014. "Oil and natural gas prospects in South America: Can the petroleum industry pave the way for renewables in Brazil?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 58-70.
    14. Spiro, Daniel, 2014. "Resource prices and planning horizons," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 159-175.
    15. Lund, Diderik & Nymoen, Ragnar, 2013. "Comparative statics for real options on oil: What stylized facts to use?," Memorandum 14/2013, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    16. Gregor Schwerhoff & Martin Stuermer, 2015. "Non-renewable resources, extraction technology, and endogenous growth," Working Papers 1506, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    17. Orlov, Anton, 2016. "Effects of higher domestic gas prices in Russia on the European gas market: A game theoretical Hotelling model," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 188-199.
    18. Gregor Schwerhoff & Ottmar Edenhofer & Marc Fleurbaey, 2020. "Taxation Of Economic Rents," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 398-423, April.
    19. Jaakkola, Niko, 2019. "Carbon taxation, OPEC and the end of oil," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 101-117.
    20. Johannes Pfeiffer, 2017. "Fossil Resources and Climate Change – The Green Paradox and Resource Market Power Revisited in General Equilibrium," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 77, November.
    21. Huppmann, Daniel, 2013. "Endogenous shifts in OPEC market power - A Stackelberg oligopoly with fringe," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79758, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    22. Schade, Jutta & Wallström, Peter & Olofsson, Thomas & Lagerqvist, Ove, 2013. "A comparative study of the design and construction process of energy efficient buildings in Germany and Sweden," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 28-37.
    23. Peter K. Kruse-Andersen, 2019. "Directed Technical Change, Environmental Sustainability, and Population Growth," Discussion Papers 19-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    24. Gerard Meijden & Frederick Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2017. "Frontiers of Climate Change Economics," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 68(1), pages 1-14, September.
    25. Olovsson, Conny, 2016. "Oil prices in a real-businesscycle model with precautionary demand for oil," Working Paper Series 332, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).

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