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Optimal Regulation: The Economic Theory of Natural Monopoly


  • Kenneth E. Train

    () (University of California, Berkeley)


Optimal Regulation addresses the central issue of regulatory economics - how to regulate firms in a way that induces them to produce and price "optimally." It synthesizes the major findings of an extensive theoretical literature on what constitutes optimality in various situations and which regulatory mechanisms can be used to achieve it. It is the first text to provide a unified, modern, and nontechnical treatment of the field. The book includes models for regulating optimal output, tariffs, and surplus subsidy schemes, and presents all of the material graphically, with clear explanations of often highly technical topics. Kenneth E. Train is Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Economics and Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also Principal of the firm Cambridge Systematics. Topics include: The cost structure of natural monopoly (economies of scale and scope). Characterization of first and second-best optimality. Surplus subsidy schemes for attaining first-best optimality. Ramsey prices and the Vogelsang-Finsinger mechanism for attaining them. Time-ofuse (TOU) prices and Riordan's mechanisms for attaining the optimal TOU prices' Multipart and self-selecting tariffs, and Sibley's method for using self-selecting tariffs to achieve optimality. The Averch-Johnson model of how rate-of-return regulation induces inefficiencies. Analysis of regulation based on the firm's return on Output, costs, or sales. Price-cap regulation. Regulatory treatment of uncertainty and its impact on the firm's behavior. Methods of attaining optimality without direct regulation (contestability, auctioning the monopoly franchise).

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth E. Train, 1991. "Optimal Regulation: The Economic Theory of Natural Monopoly," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200848, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262200848

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Kumhof & Evan C Tanner, 2005. "Government Debt; A Key Role in Financial Intermediation," IMF Working Papers 05/57, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen Reinhart, 2003. "The Center and the Periphery: The Globalization of Financial Turmoil," NBER Working Papers 9479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Amartya Lahiri & Rajesh Singh & Carlos A. Vegh, 2007. "Optimal Exchange Rate Regimes: Turning Mundell-Fleming's Dictum on its Head," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 54(3), pages 249-270, September.
    4. Fabrizio Coricelli & Bostjan Jazbec & Igor Masten, 2008. "Sources and Obstacles for Growth in Transition Countries: The Role of Credit," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00643347, HAL.
    5. repec:hal:journl:hal-00643347 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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