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Option Value and Flexibility: A General Theorem with Applications

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  • Salanié, François
  • Treich, Nicolas

Abstract

What is the effect of future information on today's actions? The answer may help understand, or justify, low investment in the presence of costs, a preference for holding liquid money, self-insurance or precautionary savings motives, environmental preservation and global warming abatement policies. Within a three-period model, Epstein (1980) showed that the effect of future information depends on a condition on an indirect value function. We provide the necessary and sufficient condition on the model's primitives. Furthermore, we derive a generic ambiguity result, and characterize all model specifications for which the question can be answered without ambiguity. These specifications include all classical models discussed in the literature. The paper also discusses the interpretation of the concept of flexibility in this literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Salanié, François & Treich, Nicolas, 2009. "Option Value and Flexibility: A General Theorem with Applications," TSE Working Papers 09-002, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22030
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eeckhoudt, Louis & Gollier, Christian & Treich, Nicolas, 2005. "Optimal consumption and the timing of the resolution of uncertainty," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 761-773, April.
    2. Maler, Karl-Goran & Fisher, Anthony, 2006. "Environment, Uncertainty, and Option Values," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 13, pages 571-620 Elsevier.
    3. Kolstad, Charles D., 1996. "Fundamental irreversibilities in stock externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 221-233, May.
    4. Carolyn Kousky & Erzo Luttmer & Richard Zeckhauser, 2006. "Private investment and government protection," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 73-100, September.
    5. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    6. Baker, Erin, 2005. "Uncertainty and learning in a strategic environment: global climate change," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 19-40, January.
    7. Fisher, Anthony C. & Hanemann, W. Michael, 1987. "Quasi-option value: Some misconceptions dispelled," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 183-190, June.
    8. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
    9. Gollier, Christian & Jullien, Bruno & Treich, Nicolas, 2000. "Scientific progress and irreversibility: an economic interpretation of the 'Precautionary Principle'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 229-253, February.
    10. Kenneth J. Arrow & Anthony C. Fisher, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-319.
    11. Epstein, Larry G, 1980. "Decision Making and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(2), pages 269-283, June.
    12. Robert A. Jones & Joseph M. Ostroy, 1984. "Flexibility and Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 13-32.
    13. Hanemann, W. Michael, 1989. "Information and the concept of option value," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 23-37, January.
    14. Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-1012, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Attanasi & Aldo Montesano, 2010. "Testing Value vs Waiting Value in Environmental Decisions under Uncertainty," LERNA Working Papers 10.01.307, LERNA, University of Toulouse.

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