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The past fifteen years have been a period of revolutionary change in the field of economic regulation. In many industries, e.g., telecommunications and electricity, the revolution is far from complete, and it is too early to predict the new equilibrium. The mounting evidence that traditional cost-of-service regulation of franchised monopolists yields poor results has induced agencies, scholars, and legislatures to seek alternative methods of governing markets that had been subject to stable regulatory regimes for half a century. In some cases, e.g., trucking and airlines, deregulation was the answer. In many other cases, however, e.g., natural gas and electricity, the structural characteristics of the market suggested the need for continued regulation, but the poor performance of the traditional system suggested the need for radical changes in scope and methodology. Meanwhile, the country's largest industry, health care, seems to be on the verge of entering the regulated industries category.
The first three chapters of this book cover topics that have long been staples in economic regulation courses--how healthy markets perform, the sources and effects of the most common forms of market failure, and the issues that arise recurrently in attempting to implement traditional cost-of-service regulation. I have changed the emphasis in these otherwise traditional materials, however, to focus on problems that are likely to be unavoidable in implementing any system of economic regulation, e.g., valuing long-lived capital assets, allocating joint and common costs, and contending with arguable investment and contracting errors made by regulated firms.
The fourth chapter describes the etiology of regulatory failure in several contexts. It analyzes the symptoms and sources of poor performance in markets that were long subject to traditional cost-of-service regulation. Its purpose is to allow students to participate in the process of devising new regulatory systems by understanding the sources of dysfunctions in traditional systems.
Chapter five describes and analyzes in detail the new forms of regulation that have come to dominate the ''network'' industries; telecommunications, natural gas, and electricity. The new regulatory regimes applicable to these industries include four major components: service unbundling, equal access to bottleneck facilities, competitive contracting, and incentive regulation. Chapter five identifies and analyzes the recurring problems attendant to these new forms of government intervention. The competitive contracting section also introduces students to the host of difficult issues raised by the transition to ''managed competition'' in the healthcare market. The chapter concludes with treatments of two topics that increasingly dominate all debates concerning regulatory change: the role of rapidly changing technology in shaping regulatory systems, and the treatment of the transition costs, or ''stranded investments,'' that flow inevitably from any major change in a regulatory system.
Chapter six introduces students to yet another area of revolutionary change--attempts to integrate economic regulation and environmental regulation. The topics covered include contingent valuation, integrated resource planning, demand side management, environmental taxes, marketable permit systems, and externality adders.
Throughout the book, I have selected materials that are accessible and useful to students of law, economics, public policy, or business administration. Any student will find the materials intellectually challenging. Any student who accepts the challenge will emerge with the knowledge and insights required to address a wide range of regulatory issues effectively in a courtroom or agency hearing room, in a boardroom or corporate planning department, in advising agency heads or legislators, and in a classroom or scholarly paper. I hope that many students will also find the intellectual challenge intrinsically rewarding.
Pierce, Richard J. Jr. :
Paul Kellner Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law
Chapter I: The Market
C. Competitive Equilibrium
Chapter II: Market Failure and Regulatory Intervention
A. Natural Monopoly
B. Destructive Competition
C. The Tragedy of the Commons and Externalities
D. Information Problems
E. Third Party Decisionmakers and Third Party Payments
F. Redistribution of Wealth
G. Windfall Profits
Chapter III: Basics of Regulation
A. Traditional Formula for Calculating Allowed Revenues
B. Rate Base and Rate of Return
C. Rate Design
D. Non-Price Regulatory Controls
Chapter IV: Regulatory Failure
A. Price Controls in a Structurally Competitive Market
C. Jurisdictional Conflicts
D. Structural Inefficiency
Chapter V: Innovative Responses to Regulatory Failure
B. Breaking Up a Monopoly
C. Equal Access to Bottleneck Facilities and Unbundling
D. Competitive Contracting
E. Competition at the Retail Level
F. Incentive Regulation
G. Changing Technology
H. Transition Costs
Chapter VI: Merging Economic Regulation and Environmental Regulation
A. Contingent Valuation
C. Environmental Adders
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