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The Effect of Uncertainty on Investment: Evidence from Texas Oil Drilling

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  • Ryan Kellogg

Abstract

Despite widespread application of real options theory in the literature, the extent to which firms actually delay irreversible investments following an increase in the uncertainty of their environment is not empirically well-known. This paper estimates firms' responsiveness to changes in uncertainty using detailed data on oil well drilling in Texas and expectations of future oil price volatility derived from the NYMEX futures options market. Using a dynamic model of firms' investment problem, I find that oil companies respond to changes in expected price volatility by adjusting their drilling activity by a magnitude consistent with the optimal response prescribed by theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Ryan Kellogg, 2010. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Investment: Evidence from Texas Oil Drilling," NBER Working Papers 16541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16541
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L71 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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