Biofuel Subsidies: An Open-Economy Analysis

28 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2009

See all articles by Subhayu Bandyopadhyay

Subhayu Bandyopadhyay

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Research Division; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; West Virginia University

Sumon K. Bhaumik

Aston University - Aston Business School; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Stephen M. Ross School of Business, William Davidson Institute

Howard J. Wall

Lindenwood University - Center for Economics and the Environment

Abstract

We present a general equilibrium analysis of biofuel subsidies in an open-economy context. In the small-country case, when a Pigouvian tax on conventional fuels such as crude is in place, the optimal biofuel subsidy is zero. When the tax on crude is not available as a policy option, however, a second-best biofuel subsidy (or tax) is optimal. In the large-country case, the optimal tax on crude departs from its standard Pigouvian level and a biofuel subsidy is optimal. A biofuel subsidy spurs global demand for food and confers a terms-of-trade benefit to the food-exporting nation. This might encourage the food-exporting nation to use a subsidy even if it raises global crude use. The food importer has no such incentive for subsidization. Terms-of-trade effects wash out between trading nations; hence, any policy intervention by the two trading nations that raises crude use must be jointly suboptimal.

Keywords: optimal biofuel subsidy, Pigouvian tax, terms-of-trade, pollution externality

JEL Classification: F1, H2, O1

Suggested Citation

Bandyopadhyay, Subhayu and Bhaumik, Sumon K. and Wall, Howard J., Biofuel Subsidies: An Open-Economy Analysis. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4584. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1515131

Subhayu Bandyopadhyay (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Research Division ( email )

411 Locust St
PO Box 442
St. Louis, MO 63011
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

West Virginia University ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506-6025
United States
304-293-7879 (Phone)
304-293-7061 (Fax)

Sumon K. Bhaumik

Aston University - Aston Business School ( email )

Aston Triangle
Birmingham, West Midlands B47ET
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Stephen M. Ross School of Business, William Davidson Institute

724 E. University Ave.
Wyly Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
United States

Howard J. Wall

Lindenwood University - Center for Economics and the Environment ( email )

209 S. Kingshighway
St. Charles, MO 63301
United States

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