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Prices vs. quantities in a dynamic problem: Externalities from resource extraction


  • Briggs, R.J.


This paper shows how a stationary tax policy can optimally address a flow externality associated with resource extraction when the policymaker faces asymmetric information. In the model I consider, the policymaker must set policy in each period before the realization of a price shock. Resource owners then learn the value of the shock, and the owners choose extraction quantities. The optimal policy is a stationary tax rule that responds to a positive shock to the current price by reducing next period's tax rate. Intuitively, a reduction in next period's tax rate makes extraction next period less expensive and thus dampens the resource owner's current response to a price increase. This policy is robust to some, but not necessarily all, boundary solutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Briggs, R.J., 2011. "Prices vs. quantities in a dynamic problem: Externalities from resource extraction," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 843-854.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:resene:v:33:y:2011:i:4:p:843-854
    DOI: 10.1016/j.reseneeco.2011.06.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
    2. Weitzman, Martin L., 2002. "Landing Fees vs Harvest Quotas with Uncertain Fish Stocks," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 325-338, March.
    3. Long, Ngo Van & Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1985. "Surprise Price Shifts, Tax Changes and the Supply Behaviour of Resource Extracting Firms," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(45), pages 278-289, December.
    4. Lars E. O. Svensson, 2003. "What Is Wrong with Taylor Rules? Using Judgment in Monetary Policy through Targeting Rules," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(2), pages 426-477, June.
    5. Richard Newell & William Pizer & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Managing Permit Markets to Stabilize Prices," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 31(2), pages 133-157, June.
    6. Coria, Jessica, 2009. "Taxes, permits, and the diffusion of a new technology," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 249-271, November.
    7. Farzin, Y. H., 1996. "Optimal pricing of environmental and natural resource use with stock externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 31-57, October.
    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. Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2002. "Taxes versus quotas for a stock pollutant," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 367-384, November.
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    More about this item


    Environmental policy; Resource policy; Choice of instruments; Asymmetric information; Non-renewable resources; Prices vs. quantities; Taxes; Permits; Uncertainty;

    JEL classification:

    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy


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