Business Intelligence

An Experimental Study Of Auctions Versus Grandfathering To Assign Pollution Permits

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Executive Summary

The authors experimentally study auctions versus grandfathering in the initial assignment of pollution permits that can be traded in a secondary spot market. Low and high emitters compete for permits in the auction, while permits are assigned for free under grandfathering. In theory, trading in the spot market should erase inefficiencies due to initial mis-allocations. In the experiment, high emitters exercise market power in the spot market and permit holdings under grandfathering remain skewed towards high emitters. Furthermore, the opportunity costs of "Free" permits are fully "Passed through."

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