NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Charles Mason

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Working Papers

April 2011Contracting for Impure Public Goods: Carbon Offsets and Additionality
with Andrew Plantinga: w16963
Governments contracting with private agents for the provision of an impure public good must contend with agents who would potentially supply the good absent any payments. This additionality problem is centrally important to the use of carbon offsets to mitigate climate change. We analyze optimal contracts for forest carbon, an important offset category. A novel national-scale simulation of the contracts is conducted that uses econometric results derived from micro data. For a 50 million acre increase in forest area, annual government expenditures with optimal contracts are found to be about $4 billion lower compared to costs with a uniform subsidy.
October 2009Are CEOs Expected Utility Maximizers?
with John List: w15453
Are individuals expected utility maximizers? This question represents much more than academic curiosity. In a normative sense, at stake are the fundamental underpinnings of the bulk of the last half-century’s models of choice under uncertainty. From a positive perspective, the ubiquitous use of benefit-cost analysis across government agencies renders the expected utility maximization paradigm literally the only game in town. In this study, we advance the literature by exploring CEO’s preferences over small probability, high loss lotteries. Using undergraduate students as our experimental control group, we find that both our CEO and student subject pools exhibit frequent and large departures from expected utility theory. In addition, as the extreme payoffs become more likely CEOs exhi...
June 2009Co-optimization of Enhanced Oil Recovery and Carbon Sequestration
with Andrew Leach, Klaas van't Veld: w15035
In this paper, we present what is to our knowledge the first theoretical economic analysis of CO2- enhanced oil recovery (EOR). This technique, which has been used successfully in a number of oil plays (notably in West Texas, Wyoming, and Saskatchewan), entails injection of CO2 into mature oil fields in a manner that reduces the oil's viscosity, thereby enhancing the rate of extraction. As part of this process, significant quantities of CO2 remain sequestered in the reservoir. If CO2 emissions are regulated, oil producers using EOR should therefore be able to earn sequestration credits in addition to oil revenues. We develop a theoretical framework that analyzes the dynamic co-optimization of oil extraction and CO2 sequestration, through the producer's choice at each point in time of an op...

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