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The Timing and Scale of Investment Under Uncertainty

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  • John P. Small

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Abstract

This paper studies optimal investment in sunk assets for a firm facing uncertain future demand and costs. The investment problem is decomposed into decisions over scale and timing which are influenced by convex adjustment costs and the feasibility of delaying investment. The value of the resulting real option to delay behaves as expected in response to increases in demand and cost uncertainty but has new timing and scale interpretations. The larger is the option value, the more capital would be installed if delay were not profitable. The timing of investment, however, is controlled by the expected trajectory of capital prices relative to the firm's discount rate. The analysis also suggests an empirical model for aggregate investment which explains 96% of the variation in real annual investment for Canada over the period (1981-94) using regressors formed from only three variables: business confidence, capital prices and real interest rates.

Suggested Citation

  • John P. Small, 1999. "The Timing and Scale of Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrics Working Papers 9906, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  • Handle: RePEc:vic:vicewp:9906 Note: ISSN 1485-6441
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    File URL: http://www.uvic.ca/socialsciences/economics/assets/docs/econometrics/ewp9906.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew B. Abel & Avinash K. Dixit & Janice B. Eberly & Robert S. Pindyck, "undated". "Options, the Value of Capital, and Investment," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 15-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    2. Majd, Saman & Pindyck, Robert S., 1987. "Time to build, option value, and investment decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 7-27, March.
    3. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
    4. Andrew B. Abel & Avinash K. Dixit & Janice C. Eberly & Robert S. Pindyck, 1996. "Options, the Value of Capital, and Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 753-777.
    5. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-233, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. John P. Small & Henry Ergas, 1999. "The Rental Cost of Sunk and Regulated Capital," Econometrics Working Papers 9908, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    2. Meade, Richard, 2005. "Electricity Investment and Security of Supply in Liberalized Electricity Systems," Working Paper Series 3859, Victoria University of Wellington, The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Investment; timing; scale;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing

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