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Price Cap Regulation and Investment Incentives under Demand Uncertainty

  • Roques, F.A.
  • Savva , N.S.

We study the effect of price cap regulation on investment in new capacity in an oligopolistic (Cournot) industry, using a continuous time model with stochastic demand. A price cap has two mutually competing effects on investment under demand uncertainty: it makes the option of deferring investment very valuable, but it also reduces the interest of strategic underinvestment to raise prices. We show that there exists an optimal price cap that maximizes investment incentives. As with deterministic demand, the optimal price cap is the clearing price of the competitive market. However, unlike the deterministic case, we show that such a price cap does not restore the competitive equilibrium; there is still under-investment. Sensitivity analyses and Monte Carlo simulations show that the efficiency of price cap regulation depends critically on demand volatility and that errors in the choice of the price cap can have detrimental consequences on investment and average prices.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0636.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: May 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0636
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Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. Allaz Blaise & Vila Jean-Luc, 1993. "Cournot Competition, Forward Markets and Efficiency," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, February.
  2. Newbery, D. M., 1997. "Competition, Contracts and Entry in the Electricity Spot Market," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9707, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Grobman, Jeffrey H. & Carey, Janis M., 2001. "Price caps and investment: long-run effects in the electric generation industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 545-552, June.
  4. Neuhoff, K. & de Vries, L., 2004. "'Insufficient Incentives for Investment in Electricity Generation’," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0428, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  5. Gollier, Christian & Proult, David & Thais, Francoise & Walgenwitz, Gilles, 2005. "Choice of nuclear power investments under price uncertainty: Valuing modularity," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 667-685, July.
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  10. Dixit, Avinash, 1991. "Irreversible Investment with Price Ceilings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 541-57, June.
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  12. Baldursson, Fridrik M., 1998. "Irreversible investment under uncertainty in oligopoly," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 627-644, April.
  13. Robert Earle & Karl Schmedders & Tymon Tatur, 2007. "On Price Caps Under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 93-111.
  14. Ellen M. Pint, 1992. "Price-Cap versus Rate-of-Return Regulation in a Stochastic-Cost Model," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(4), pages 564-578, Winter.
  15. Joskow, P.L., 2003. "The Difficult Transition to Competitive Electricity Markets in the U.S," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0328, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  16. Steven R. Grenadier, 2002. "Option Exercise Games: An Application to the Equilibrium Investment Strategies of Firms," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 691-721.
  17. MURPHY, Frederic & SMEERS, Yves, 2005. "Forward markets may not decrease market power when capacities are endogenous," CORE Discussion Papers 2005028, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  18. Ian M. Dobbs, 2004. "Intertemporal price cap regulation under uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 421-440, 04.
  19. Leahy, John V, 1993. "Investment in Competitive Equilibrium: The Optimality of Myopic Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 1105-33, November.
  20. Molho, Ian, 1995. "Price Ceilings and Imperfect Competition," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 42(4), pages 392-408, November.
  21. McDonald, Robert & Siegel, Daniel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-27, November.
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