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Delegation to Independent Regulators and the Ratchet Effect

Author

Listed:
  • Joanne Evans

    (University of Surrey)

  • Paul Levine

    (University of Surrey)

  • Neil Rickman

    (University of Surrey and CEPR)

  • Francesc Trillas

    (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)

Abstract

Dynamic principal-agent settings with asymmetric information but no commitment are well known to create a ratchet effect. Here, the most efficient agents must be provided with extra 'information rent' as an incentive to relinquish their informational advantage over an uninformed principal; this causes welfare to fall. We study this problem in the case of regulatory procurement and show that delegation by the government to an independent regulator whose preferences differ from the government's can overcome this inefficiency, and we provide 'conservative' conditions under which this happens. Our solution reflects several aspects of many modern regulatory settings: government commitment to a particular regulator, the provision of independence to that regulator, and heterogeneity across available regulators. Our results also provide an analogy with the literatures on the benefits of delegation to independent principals in other settings, such as monetary policy, financial regulation and trade and hence contribute to this broader research agenda.

Suggested Citation

  • Joanne Evans & Paul Levine & Neil Rickman & Francesc Trillas, 2011. "Delegation to Independent Regulators and the Ratchet Effect," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0911, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  • Handle: RePEc:sur:surrec:0911
    as

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    File URL: https://repec.som.surrey.ac.uk/2011/DP09-11.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Geoff Edwards & Leonard Waverman, 2006. "The Effects of Public Ownership and Regulatory Independence on Regulatory Outcomes," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 23-67, January.
    2. Trillas, Francesc, 2010. "Independent regulators: Theory, evidence and reform proposals," IESE Research Papers D/860, IESE Business School.
    3. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2004. "The New Systems Competition," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(1), pages 23-38, February.
    4. Kahn, Charles M. & Santos, Joao A.C., 2005. "Allocating bank regulatory powers: Lender of last resort, deposit insurance and supervision," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 2107-2136, November.
    5. Baron, David P. & Besanko, David, 1984. "Regulation and information in a continuing relationship," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-302.
    6. Carlo Cambini & Laura Rondi, 2010. "Regulatory Independence and Political Interference: Evidence from EU Mixed-Ownership Utilities’ Investment and Debt," Working Papers 2010.69, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    7. Janice A. Hauge & Mark A. Jamison & James E. Prieger, 2012. "Oust the Louse: Does Political Pressure Discipline Regulators?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 299-332, June.
    8. Evans, Joanne & Levine, Paul & Trillas, Francesc, 2008. "Lobbies, delegation and the under-investment problem in regulation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 17-40, January.
    9. Paul Levine & Neil Rickman & Francesc Trillas, 2006. "Price Regulation and the Commitment Problem: Can Limited Capture be Beneficial?," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0106, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
    10. Paul Levine & John Stern & Francesc Trillas, 2005. "Utility price regulation and time inconsistency: comparisons with monetary policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 447-478, July.
    11. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
    12. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 2003. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1176-1206, September.
    13. Spulber, Daniel F & Besanko, David, 1992. "Delegation, Commitment, and the Regulatory Mandate," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 126-154, March.
    14. Francesc Trillas, 2008. "Regulatory federalism in network industries," Working Papers 2008/8, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    15. Brown, Pamela Clark & Miller, Jeffrey B & Thornton, James R, 1994. "The Ratchet Effect and the Coordination of Production in the Absence of Rent Extraction," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(241), pages 93-114, February.
    16. Mark Armstrong & Simon Cowan & John Vickers, 1994. "Regulatory Reform: Economic Analysis and British Experience," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510790, January.
    17. Faure-Grimaud, Antoine & Martimort, David, 2003. " Regulatory Inertia," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(3), pages 413-437, Autumn.
    18. 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, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raffaele Fiocco & Roland Strausz, 2015. "Consumer Standards as a Strategic Device to Mitigate Ratchet Effects in Dynamic Regulation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 550-569, September.
    2. Lehr, William & Sicker, Douglas, 2017. "Communications Act 2021," 28th European Regional ITS Conference, Passau 2017 169478, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    delegation; ratchet effect; procurement;

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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