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Price Regulation, Investment and the Commitment Problem

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  • Levine, Paul L
  • Rickman, Neil

Abstract

We consider a dynamic model of price regulation with asymmetric information where strategic delegation is available to the regulator. Firms can sink non- contractible, cost-reducing investment but regulators cannot commit to future price levels. We fully characterize the Perfect Bayesian equilibria and show that, with incentive contracts but without delegation, under- and over-investment can occur. We then show that delegation to a suitable regulator can both improve investment incentives and ameliorate the ratchet effect by credibly offering the firm future rent. Simulations indicate significant welfare gains from these two effects and that a wide range of regulatory preferences can achieve this result.

Suggested Citation

  • Levine, Paul L & Rickman, Neil, 2002. "Price Regulation, Investment and the Commitment Problem," CEPR Discussion Papers 3200, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3200
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David M. Newbery, 2002. "Privatization, Restructuring, and Regulation of Network Utilities," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262640481, January.
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    3. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L & Kalai, Ehud, 1991. "Observable Contracts: Strategic Delegation and Cooperation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(3), pages 551-559, August.
    4. Fershtman, Chaim & Kalai, Ehud, 1997. "Unobserved Delegation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(4), pages 763-774, November.
    5. Fershtman, Chaim & Gneezy, Uri, 2001. "Strategic Delegation: An Experiment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 352-368, Summer.
    6. Urbiztondo, Santiago, 1994. "Investment without Regulatory Commitment: The Case of Elastic Demand," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 87-96, February.
    7. Lyon, Thomas P, 1995. "Regulatory Hindsight Review and Innovation by Electric Utilities," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 233-254, May.
    8. Spulber, Daniel F & Besanko, David, 1992. "Delegation, Commitment, and the Regulatory Mandate," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 126-154, March.
    9. Currie, David & Levine, Paul L & Rickman, Neil, 1999. "Delegation and the Ratchet Effect: Should Regulators Be Pro-Industry?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2274, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Goodwin, Thomas H. & Patrick, Robert H., 1992. "Capital recovery for the regulated firm under certainty and regulatory uncertainty," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 337-361, December.
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    12. Dalen, Dag Morten, 1995. "Efficiency-improving investment and the ratchet effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1511-1522, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Levine & Neil Rickman & Francesc Trillas, 2006. "Price Regulation and the Commitment Problem: Can Limited Capture be Beneficial?," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0106, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
    2. Evans, Joanne & Levine, Paul & Trillas, Francesc, 2008. "Lobbies, delegation and the under-investment problem in regulation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 17-40, January.
    3. Maiorano, F. & Stern, J., 2007. "Institutions and investment in low and middle-income countries: the case of mobile communications," Working Papers 07/06, Department of Economics, City University London.
    4. Maiorano, Federica & Stern, Jon, 2007. "Institutions and telecommunications infrastructure in low and middle-income countries: The case of mobile telephony," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 165-181, September.
    5. Antonio Estache & L. Wren-Lewis, 2008. "Towards a Theory of Regulation for Developing Countries: Following Laffont's Lead," Working Papers ECARES 2008_018, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. Brito Duarte & Pereira Pedro & Vareda João, 2013. "Investment, Dynamic Consistency and the Sectoral Regulator’s Objective," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 563-594, August.
    7. Paul Levine & Paul Levine & Jon Stern & Francesc Trillas, 2003. "Independent Utility Regulators: Lessons from Monetary Policy," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0403, School of Economics, University of Surrey.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    commitment; price regulation; under investment;

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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