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Price Regulation and Investment: A Real Options Approach

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This paper examines a three-period model of an investment decision in a network industry characterized by demand uncertainty, economies of scale and sunk costs. In the absence of regulation we identify the market conditions under which a monopolist decides to invest early as well as the underlying overall welfare output. In a regulated environment, we first consider a monopolist facing no downstream competition but subject to a price cap on the downstream retail (final good) market. We identify the welfare-maximising regulated prices using the unregulated market output as a benchmark. In particular, we show that the optimal regulation depends on market conditions (that is, the nature of demand) and there are three possible outcomes: (i) price regulation does not improve welfare; (ii) regulated prices include an option to delay value and provide a positive payoff to the firm; and (iii) regulated prices yield a zero payoff to the firm. Second, we consider a vertically integrated network provider that is required to provide access to downstream competitors. We show that when the regulator has only one instrument, namely the access price, an option-to-delay pricing rule generates (weakly) higher welfare than the Efficient Component Pricing Rule (ECPR), except under very specific conditions.

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  • Fernando T. Camacho & Flavio M. Menezes, 2008. "Price Regulation and Investment: A Real Options Approach," Discussion Papers Series 373, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:373
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    File URL: http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/abstract/373.pdf
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    1. Pindyck Robert S., 2007. "Mandatory Unbundling and Irreversible Investment in Telecom Networks," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 1-25, September.
    2. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743.
    3. Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg, 1994. "An Option Valuation Analysis of Investment Choices by a Regulated Firm," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(4), pages 535-548, April.
    4. Robert Breunig & Jeremy Hornby & Scott Stacey & Flavio Menezes, 2006. "Price Regulation in Australia: How Consistent Has It Been?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(256), pages 67-76, March.
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