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Investments of Uncertain Cost

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  • Robert S. Pindyck

Abstract

I study irreversible investment decisions when projects take time to complete, and are subject to two types of uncertainty over the cost of completion. The first is technical uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty over the amount of time, effort, and materials that will ultimately be required to complete the project, and that is only resolved as the investment proceeds. The second is input cost uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty over the prices and quantities of labor and materials required, and which is external to the firm's investment activity. I derive a simple decision rule that maximizes the firm's value, and I use it to show how these two types of uncertainty have very different effects on investment decisions. As an example. I analyze the decision to start or continue building a nuclear power plant during the 1980's.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert S. Pindyck, 1992. "Investments of Uncertain Cost," NBER Working Papers 4175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4175
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Roberts, Kevin & Weitzman, Martin L, 1981. "Funding Criteria for Research, Development, and Exploration Projects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1261-1288, September.
    2. Majd, Saman & Pindyck, Robert S., 1987. "Time to build, option value, and investment decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 7-27, March.
    3. Saman Majd & Robert S. Pindyck, 1989. "The Learning Curve and Optimal Production under Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(3), pages 331-343, Autumn.
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    5. Zeira, Joseph, 1987. "Investment as a Process of Search," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 204-210, February.
    6. Pindyck, Robert S, 1991. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 1110-1148, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis

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