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An Experimental Study of Auctions Versus Grandfathering to Assign Pollution Permits

Author

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  • Jacob K. Goeree
  • Charles A. Holt
  • Karen Palmer
  • William Shobe
  • Dallas Burtraw

Abstract

We experimentally study auctions versus grandfathering in the initial assignment of pollution permits that can be traded in a secondary spot market. Low and high emitters compete for permits in the auction, whereas permits are assigned for free under grandfathering. In theory, trading in the spot market should erase inefficiencies due to initial mis-allocations. In the experiment, high emitters exercise market power in the spot market, and permit holdings under grandfathering remain skewed towards high emitters. Furthermore, the opportunity costs of "free" permits are fully "passed through." In the auction, the majority of permits are won by low emitters, reducing the need for spot-market trading. Auctions generate higher consumer surplus and slightly lower product prices in the laboratory markets. Moreover, auctions eliminate the large "windfall profits" that are observed in the treatment with free, grandfathered permit allocations. (JEL: C92, D43, D44, Q58) (c) 2010 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Karen Palmer & William Shobe & Dallas Burtraw, 2010. "An Experimental Study of Auctions Versus Grandfathering to Assign Pollution Permits," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 514-525, 04-05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:8:y:2010:i:2-3:p:514-525
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dallas Burtraw & Jacob Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Erica Myers & Karen Palmer & William Shobe, 2009. "Collusion in auctions for emission permits: An experimental analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4), pages 672-691.
    2. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
    3. Matti Liski & Juan-Pablo Montero, 2005. "A Note on Market Power in an Emission Permits Market with Banking," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 31(2), pages 159-173, June.
    4. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Bharvirkar, Ranjit & Paul, Anthony, 2002. "The Effect on Asset Values of the Allocation of Carbon Dioxide Emission Allowances," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 51-62, June.
    5. Robert W. Hahn, 1984. "Market Power and Transferable Property Rights," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 753-765.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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