NBER Working Papers by Nicholas Ryan

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Working Papers

January 2017The Competitive Effects of Transmission Infrastructure in the Indian Electricity Market
India, seeking to reduce electricity shortages, set up a new power market, in which transmission constraints sharply limit trade between regions. I use confidential bidding data to estimate the costs of power supply and simulate market outcomes with more transmission capacity. I find that the returns to building transmission hinge on market conduct. Under a competitive model of supply, transmission investments roughly breakeven. Under a strategic model, the same transmission expansion increases market surplus by 19 percent, enough to justify the investment, because low-cost sellers increase supply in response to a more integrated grid.
October 2014The Value of Regulatory Discretion: Estimates from Environmental Inspections in India
with Esther Duflo, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande: w20590
In collaboration with a state environmental regulator in India, we conducted a field experiment to raise the frequency of environmental inspections to the prescribed minimum for a random set of industrial plants. The treatment was successful when judged by process measures, as treatment plants, relative to the control group, were more than twice as likely to be inspected and to be cited for violating pollution standards. Yet the treatment was weaker for more consequential outcomes: the regulator was no more likely to identify extreme polluters (i.e., plants with emissions five times the regulatory standard or more) or to impose costly penalties in the treatment group. In response to the added scrutiny, treatment plants only marginally increased compliance with standards and did not signifi...
July 2013Truth-telling by Third-party Auditors and the Response of Polluting Firms: Experimental Evidence from India
with Esther Duflo, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande: w19259
In many regulated markets, private, third-party auditors are chosen and paid by the firms that they audit, potentially creating a conflict of interest. This paper reports on a two-year field experiment in the Indian state of Gujarat that sought to curb such a conflict by altering the market structure for environmental audits of industrial plants to incentivize accurate reporting. There are three main results. First, the status quo system was largely corrupted, with auditors systematically reporting plant emissions just below the standard, although true emissions were typically higher. Second, the treatment caused auditors to report more truthfully and very significantly lowered the fraction of plants that were falsely reported as compliant with pollution standards. Third, treatment plants,...

Published: Esther Duflo & Michael Greenstone & Nicholas Ryan, 2013. "Truth-telling by Third-party Auditors and the Response of Polluting Firms: Experimental Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1499-1545. citation courtesy of

May 2013Do Depositors Monitor Banks?
with Rajkamal Iyer, Manju Puri: w19050
We use unique micro-level depositor data for a bank that faced a run due to a shock to its solvency to study whether depositors monitor banks. Specifically, we examine depositor withdrawal patterns in response to a timeline of private and public signals of the bank's financial health. In response to a public announcement of the bank's financial troubles, we find depositors with uninsured balances, depositors with loan linkages and staff of the bank are far more likely to run. Even before the run, a regulatory audit, which was in principle private information, found the bank insolvent. We find that depositors act on this private information and withdraw in a pecking order beginning at the time of the regulatory audit, with staff moving first, followed by uninsured depositors and finally ...

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