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The “new” view of investment decisions and public policy analysis: An application to green lights and cold refrigerators

Author

Listed:
  • Gilbert E. Metcalf

    (Assistant Professor of Economics at Tufts University)

  • Donald Rosenthal

    (Economist with American Management Systems)

Abstract

Recent research in investment theory emphasizes the importance of sunk investment costs, uncertainty in returns, and flexibility in investment timing. Allowing for the presence of these characteristics alters traditional discounted cash flow rules for when to invest. Those rules will recommend investing at lower rate-of-retum thresholds than is optimal. This article describes this research and suggests the range of potential situations to which the theory applies. It also discusses the implications for policy analysis and suggests that government programs to encourage investment may, in some cases, be inappropriate. After discussing a wide array of possible applications, we focus on one in particular: programs to encourage energy-efficient investment. The examples suggest the importance of applying the new investment theory for economic analysis of investment in energy-efficient technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilbert E. Metcalf & Donald Rosenthal, 1995. "The “new” view of investment decisions and public policy analysis: An application to green lights and cold refrigerators," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 517-531.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:14:y:1995:i:4:p:517-531
    DOI: 10.2307/3324907
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hassett, Kevin A & Metcalf, Gilbert E, 1999. "Investment with Uncertain Tax Policy: Does Random Tax Policy Discourage Investment?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(457), pages 372-393, July.
    2. James L. Paddock & Daniel R. Siegel & James L. Smith, 1988. "Option Valuation of Claims on Real Assets: The Case of Offshore Petroleum Leases," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 479-508.
    3. Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Investment Incentives and the Discounting of Depreciation Allowances," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 295-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gans, Will & Alberini, Anna & Longo, Alberto, 2013. "Smart meter devices and the effect of feedback on residential electricity consumption: Evidence from a natural experiment in Northern Ireland," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 729-743.
    2. Stavins, Robert & Jaffe, Judson & Schatski, Todd, 2007. "Too Good to Be True? An Examination of Three Economic Assessments of California Climate Change Policy," Working Paper Series rwp07-016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Stavins, Robert N. & Jaffe, Judson & Schatzki, Todd, 2007. "Too Good to Be True? Three Economic Assessments of California Climate Change Policy," Discussion Papers dp-07-12, Resources For the Future.
    4. Hassett, Kevin A & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1996. "Can irreversibility explain the slow diffusion of energy saving technologies?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 7-8, January.
    5. Tsvetan Tsvetanov & Kathleen Segerson, 2014. "The Welfare Effects of Energy Efficiency Standards When Choice Sets Matter," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 233-271.

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