IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Gasoline Price Spikes and Regional Gasoline Content Regulations - A Structural Approach

  • Erich J. Muehlegger

Since 1999, gasoline prices in California, Illinois and Wisconsin have spiked occasionally well above gasoline prices in nearby states. In May and June 2000, for example, gasoline prices in Chicago rose twenty eight cents per gallon to $2.13, while prices nationally rose only nine to $1.73. Several qualitative studies identify unique gasoline formulations in California, Illinois and Wisconsin as crucial factors related to regional price spikes. This paper provides the first quantitative estimates of two distinct effects of state-level gasoline content regulations in California, Illinois and Wisconsin: (i) the effect of increased production costs associated with additional refining necessary to meet content criteria, and (ii) the effect of incompatibility between these blends and gasoline meeting federal reformulated gasoline (RFG) standards. Using a structural model based on the production optimization problem of refiners, I simulate wholesale prices for jet fuel, diesel and four blends of gasoline in each geographic market. I then specify a counterfactual in which gasoline in the three states only met federal RFG requirements. Using a constructed dataset of refinery outages, I am able to separately identify each effect. Using a similar methodology, I also estimate the effect of two other factors thought to increase gasoline prices, (i) changes in refinery ownership and (ii) limited expansion of domestic refining capacity. Point estimates for the effect of increased refining costs are 4.5, 3.0 and 2.9 cents per gallon in California, Illinois and Wisconsin. The effect of incompatibility with federal RFG criteria, conditional on an in-state refinery outage, is 4.8, 6.6 and 7.1 cents per gallon in California, Illinois and Wisconsin. Controlling for the magnitude of local outages in these areas, I estimate that 72, 92 and 91 percent of price spikes created by local refinery outages could be mitigated by compatibility with federal RFG standards. I find that changes in refinery ownership in the late 1990’s increase prices by 1.4 to 1.5 cpg in Illinois and Wisconsin and by 0.73 cents per gallon in California. A five-percent increase in domestic refining capacity reduces prices 3.7 to 3.8 cents per gallon in Illinois and Wisconsin and 4.3 cents per gallon in California.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://tisiphone.mit.edu/RePEc/mee/wpaper/2004-021.pdf
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 500 Can't connect to tisiphone.mit.edu:80 (10060). If this is indeed the case, please notify (Sharmila Ganguly)


Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in its series Working Papers with number 0421.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mee:wpaper:0421
Contact details of provider: Postal: 77 Massachusetts Ave. (Building E40-279), Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Phone: (617) 253-3551
Fax: (617) 253-9845
Web page: http://tisiphone.mit.edu/RePEcEmail:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Vita, Michael G, 2000. "Regulatory Restrictions on Vertical Integration and Control: The Competitive Impact of Gasoline Divorcement Policies," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 217-33, November.
  2. Ronald Johnson, 2002. "Search Costs, Lags and Prices at the Pump," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 33-50, February.
  3. Blass, Asher A & Carlton, Dennis W, 2001. "The Choice of Organizational Form in Gasoline Retailing and the Cost of Laws That Limit That Choice," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 511-24, October.
  4. Chouinard, Hayley & Perloff, Jeffrey M., 2002. "Gasoline Price Differences: Taxes, Pollution Regulations, Mergers, Market Power, and Market Conditions," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt2m60j5tp, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  5. Bacon, Robert W., 1991. "Rockets and feathers: the asymmetric speed of adjustment of UK retail gasoline prices to cost changes," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 211-218, July.
  6. Brown, Jennifer & Hastings, Justine & Mansur, Erin T. & Villas-Boas, Sofia B, 2006. "Reformulating competition? Gasoline content regulation and wholesale gasoline prices," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1010R, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy, revised Jan 2007.
  7. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 2002. "Sticky Prices, Inventories, and Market Power in Wholesale Gasoline Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(1), pages 116-139, Spring.
  8. Rod Anderson & Ronald Johnson, 1999. "Antitrust and Sales-Below-Cost Laws: The Case of Retail Gasoline," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 189-204, May.
  9. Dahl, Carol & Sterner, Thomas, 1991. "Analysing gasoline demand elasticities: a survey," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 203-210, July.
  10. Severin Borenstein, 1991. "Selling Costs and Switching Costs: Explaining Retail Gasoline Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 354-369, Autumn.
  11. Slade, Margaret E, 1987. "Interfirm Rivalry in a Repeated Game: An Empirical Test of Tacit Collusion," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 499-516, June.
  12. Considine, Timothy J., 2001. "Markup pricing in petroleum refining:: A multiproduct framework," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(10), pages 1499-1526, December.
  13. Geroski, Paul A & Ulph, Alistair M & Ulph, David T, 1987. "A Model of the Crude Oil Market in Which Market Conduct Varies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 77-86, Supplemen.
  14. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Nauges, Celine & Thomas, Alban, 2008. "Clean Air regulation and heterogeneity in US gasoline prices," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 106-122, January.
  15. Joris Pinkse & Margaret E. Slade & Craig Brett, 2002. "Spatial Price Competition: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 1111-1153, May.
  16. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," NBER Working Papers 4489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Considine, Timothy J. & Heo, Eunnyeong, 2000. "Price and inventory dynamics in petroleum product markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 527-548, October.
  18. Davis, Michael C & Hamilton, James D, 2004. "Why Are Prices Sticky? The Dynamics of Wholesale Gasoline Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 17-37, February.
  19. Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron, 1992. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," NBER Working Papers 4138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Innes, Robert, 1996. "Regulating Automobile Pollution under Certainty, Competition, and Imperfect Information," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 219-239, September.
  21. Nicol, C. J., 2003. "Elasticities of demand for gasoline in Canada and the United States," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 201-214, March.
  22. Espey, Molly, 1998. "Gasoline demand revisited: an international meta-analysis of elasticities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 273-295, June.
  23. Cyert, Richard M & DeGroot, Morris H, 1973. "An Analysis of Cooperation and Learning in a Duopoly Context," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 24-37, March.
  24. Puller, Steven L. & Greening, Lorna A., 1999. "Household adjustment to gasoline price change: an analysis using 9 years of US survey data," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 37-52, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mee:wpaper:0421. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sharmila Ganguly)

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Sharmila Ganguly to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.