IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wpa/wuwpga/0106001.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Mixed Signals: Market Incentives, Recycling, and the Price Spike of 1995

Author

Listed:
  • Frank Ackerman

    (The Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts Universty)

  • Kevin Gallagher

    (The Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts Universty)

Abstract

Environmental economics assumes that reliance on price signals, adjusted for externalities, normally leads to efficient solutions to environmental problems. We explore a limiting case, when market volatility created “mixed signals”: waste paper and other recycled materials were briefly worth an immense amount in 1994-95, then plummeted back to traditional low levels in 1996. These rapid reversals resulted in substantial economic and political costs. A review of academic and business literature suggests six possible explanations for abrupt price spikes. An econometric analysis of the prices of wood pulp and waste paper shows that factors that explained price changes in 1983- 93 contribute very little to understanding the subsequent price spike. From the econometric analysis and from other sources, we conclude that speculation, rather than “rational” economic factors, must have played a major role in the price spike. If speculatively driven price spikes can disrupt an environmentally important industry such as recycling, then the surprising implication for public policy is that measures to control or stabilize prices, far from interfering with the market, may actually help to make it more efficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Ackerman & Kevin Gallagher, 2001. "Mixed Signals: Market Incentives, Recycling, and the Price Spike of 1995," Game Theory and Information 0106001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0106001 Note: Type of Document - PDF; pages: 27; figures: n/a. Other working papers available at www.gdae.org
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/game/papers/0106/0106001.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Angus Deaton & Guy Laroque, 1992. "On the Behaviour of Commodity Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 1-23.
    2. Frank Ackerman & Kevin Gallagher, 2001. "Getting the Prices Wrong: The Limits of Market-Based Environmental Policy," Development and Comp Systems 0106005, EconWPA.
    3. Deaton, Angus & Laroque, Guy, 1996. "Competitive Storage and Commodity Price Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 896-923, October.
    4. Christensen, Laurits Rolf & Caves, Richard E, 1997. "Cheap Talk and Investment Rivalry in the Pulp and Paper Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 47-73, March.
    5. Deb, Partha & Trivedi, Pravin K & Varangis, Panayotis, 1996. "The Excess Co-movement of Commodity Prices Reconsidered," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(3), pages 275-291, May-June.
    6. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
    7. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    8. Baumol,William J. & Oates,Wallace E., 1988. "The Theory of Environmental Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521322249, December.
    9. Nick Hanley & Rick Slark, 1993. "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Paper Recycling: A Case Study and Some General Principles," Working Papers Series 93/13, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Baumgartner, Stefan & Winkler, Ralph, 2003. "Markets, technology and environmental regulation: price ambivalence of waste paper in Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 183-195, December.
    2. Mansikkasalo, Anna & Lundmark, Robert & Söderholm, Patrik, 2014. "Market behavior and policy in the recycled paper industry: A critical survey of price elasticity research," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 17-29.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    price spike; recycling; economic policy; market volatility;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0106001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: http://econwpa.repec.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.