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The Value of Waiting to Invest


  • Robert McDonald
  • Daniel Siegel


This paper studies the optimal timing of investment in an irreversible project where the benefits from the project and the investment cost follow continuous-time stochastic processes. The optimal investment rule and an explicit formula for the value of the option to invest are derived, assuming that the option is valued by risk-averse investors who are well diversified. The same analysis is applied to the scrapping decision. Simulations show that this option value can be significant, and that for reasonable parameter values it is optimal to wait until benefits are twice the investment costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:101:y:1986:i:4:p:707-727.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
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    9. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-224, January.
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    11. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 225-251.
    12. Bernanke, Ben S, 1986. "Employment, Hours, and Earnings in the Depression: An Analysis of EightManufacturing Industries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 82-109, March.
    13. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-1044, December.
    14. Peter M. Garber & Robert G. King, 1983. "Deep Structral Excavation? A Critique of Euler Equation Methods," NBER Technical Working Papers 0031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 67-140.
    16. Epstein, Larry G & Denny, Michael G S, 1983. "The Multivariate Flexible Accelerator Model: Its Empirical Restrictions and an Application to U.S. Manufacturing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 647-674, May.
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