Prices Versus Quantities Versus Bankable Quantities
38 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2012 Last revised: 9 May 2021
Date Written: March 2012
Quantity-based regulation with banking allows regulated firms to shift obligations across time in response to periods of unexpectedly high or low marginal costs. Despite its wide prevalence in existing and proposed emission trading programs, banking has received limited attention in past welfare analyses of policy choice under uncertainty. We address this gap with a model of banking behavior that captures two key constraints: uncertainty about the future from the firm's perspective and a limit on negative bank values (e.g., borrowing). We show conditions where banking provisions reduce price volatility and lower expected costs compared to quantity policies without banking. For plausible parameter values related to U.S. climate change policy, we find that bankable quantities produce behavior quite similar to price policies for about two decades and, during this period, improve welfare by about a $1 billion per year over fixed quantities.
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