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Least-Present-Value-of-Revenue Auctions and Highway Franchising

Author

Listed:
  • Eduardo M.R.A. Engel
  • Ronald D. Fischer
  • Alexander Galetovic

Abstract

In recent years several countries have started massive highway franchising programs auctioned to private firms. In these auctions, the regulator typically sets the franchise term and firms bid on tolls, or, alternatively, the regulator sets tolls and the winner is the firm that asks for the shortest franchise term. In this paper we argue that many of the problems that highway franchises have encountered are due to the fact that the franchise term cannot adjust to demand realizations. We propose a new auction mechanism where the firm that bids the least present value of revenue from tolls (LPVR) wins the franchise. With this scheme, the franchise length adjusts endogenously to demand realizations. Assuming that the regulator is not allowed to make transfers to the franchise holder that firms are unable to diversify risk completely due to agency problems auctions are optimal, even when the regulator does not know firms' construction costs. Furthermore, for demand uncertainty and risk aversion parameters typical of developing countries, welfare gains associated with substituting a LPVR auction for a fixed-term auction are large (e.g. one-third of the cost of the highway).

Suggested Citation

  • Eduardo M.R.A. Engel & Ronald D. Fischer & Alexander Galetovic, 1998. "Least-Present-Value-of-Revenue Auctions and Highway Franchising," NBER Working Papers 6689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6689 Note: PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oliver E. Williamson, 1976. "Franchise Bidding for Natural Monopolies -- in General and with Respect to CATV," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 73-104, Spring.
    2. Arrow, Kenneth J & Lind, Robert C, 1970. "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 364-378, June.
    3. Riordan, Michael H & Sappington, David E M, 1987. "Awarding Monopoly Franchises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 375-387, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods

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