Essays on regulatory impact in electricity and internet markets

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2014-05

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This dissertation details regulation's impact in networked markets, notably in deregulated electricity and internet service markets. These markets represent basic infrastructure in the modern economy; their innate networked structures make for rich fields of economic research on regulatory impact. The first chapter models deregulated electricity industries with a focus on the Texas market. Optimal economic benchmarks are considered for markets with regulated delivery and interrelated network costs. Using a model of regulator, consumer, and firm interaction, I determine the efficiency of the current rate formalization compared to Ramsey-Boiteux prices and two-part tariffs. I find within Texas's market increases to generator surplus up to 55% of subsidies could be achieved under Ramsey-Boiteux pricing or two-part tariffs, respectively. The second chapter presents a framework to analyze dynamic processes and long-run outcomes in two-sided markets, specifically dynamic platform and firm investment incentives within the internet-service platform/content provision market. I use the Ericson-Pakes framework applied within a platform that chooses fees on either side of its two-sided market. This chapter determines the impact of network neutrality on platform investment incentives, specifically whether to improve the platform. I use a parameterized calibration from engineering reports and current ISP literature to determine welfare outcomes and industry behavior under network neutral and non-neutral regimes. My final chapter explores retail firm failure within the deregulated Texas retail electricity market. This chapter investigates determinants of retail electric firm failures using duration analysis frameworks. In particular, this chapter investigates the impact of these determinants on firms with extant experience versus unsophisticated entrants. Understanding these determinants is an important component in evaluating whether deregulation achieves the impetus of competitive electricity market restructuring. Knowing which economic events decrease a market's competitiveness helps regulators to effectively evaluate policy implementations. I find that experience does benefit a firm's duration, but generally that benefit assists firm duration in an adverse macroeconomic environment rather than in response to adverse market conditions such as higher wholesale prices or increased transmission congestion. Additionally, I find evidence that within the Texas market entering earlier results in a longer likelihood of duration.

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