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Development Of Variable Ethanol Subsidy And Comparison With The Fixed Subsidy

Listed author(s):
  • Justin Quear


  • Wallace E. Tyner


    (Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Purdue University)

The federal government currently subsidizes ethanol with a fixed payment of $.51/gallon of ethanol blended with gasoline. Ethanol profitability is closely linked to the prices of corn and ethanol. The purpose of this paper was to develop a variable subsidy based on corn and ethanol prices and then to compare that variable subsidy with the fixed subsidy. This analysis proceeded in several distinct steps: • First, we estimated ethanol profitability over a wide range of ethanol, corn, and distillers grains prices. • This data was used in a regression analysis to estimate the ethanol profitability from the set of corn and ethanol prices. The regression coefficients became the basis for the variable subsidy. • A version of the subsidy that used gasoline prices instead of ethanol prices was also developed. • Administratively, it would be burdensome to have a subsidy that changed every month, so we implemented both variable subsidies using quarterly data. • We then compared the average annual government cost and monthly private profitability using historical data and assuming the variable subsidy and the $0.51 fixed subsidy was applied. When using historic gasoline and corn prices from the last ten years, the variable rate subsidy cost the government nearly 40% less than the flat rate subsidy. Profit received by producers on average is a little less; however, producer’s risk is lower with the variable subsidy than the flat rate subsidy.

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Paper provided by Purdue University, College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics in its series Working Papers with number 06-16.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Handle: RePEc:pae:wpaper:06-16
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  1. Lance Freeman, 2005. "Black Homeownership: The Role of Temporal Changes and Residential Segregation at the End of the 20th Century," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(2), pages 403-426.
  2. Gabriel, Stuart & Painter, Gary, 2003. "Pathways to Homeownership: An Analysis of the Residential Location and Homeownership Choices of Black Households in Los Angeles," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 87-109, July.
  3. Deng, Yongheng & Ross, Stephen L. & Wachter, Susan M., 2003. "Racial differences in homeownership: the effect of residential location," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 517-556, September.
  4. Robst, John & Deitz, Richard & McGoldrick, KimMarie, 1999. "Income variability, uncertainty and housing tenure choice1," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 219-229, March.
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