NBER Working Papers by Steven L. Puller

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Working Papers

February 2015Power to Choose? An Analysis of Consumer Inertia in the Residential Electricity Market
with Ali Hortaçsu, Seyed Ali Madanizadeh: w20988
Many jurisdictions around the world have deregulated utilities and opened retail markets to competition. However, inertial decisionmaking can diminish consumer benefits of retail competition. Using household-level data from the Texas residential electricity market, we document evidence of consumer inertia. We estimate an econometric model of retail choice to measure two sources of inertia: (1) search frictions/inattention, and (2) a brand advantage that consumers afford the incumbent. We find that households rarely search for alternative retailers, and when they do search, households attach a brand advantage to the incumbent. Counterfactual experiments show that low-cost information interventions can notably increase consumer surplus.
July 2014Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending
with Mark Hoekstra, Jeremy West: w20349
Cash for Clunkers was a 2009 economic stimulus program aimed at increasing new vehicle spending by subsidizing the replacement of older vehicles. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show the increase in sales during the two month program was completely offset during the following seven to nine months, consistent with previous research. However, we also find the program's fuel efficiency restrictions induced households to purchase more fuel efficient but less expensive vehicles, thereby reducing industry revenues by three billion dollars over the entire nine to eleven month period. This highlights the conflict between the stimulus and environmental objectives of the policy.
December 2009Testing Theories of Scarcity Pricing in the Airline Industry
with Anirban Sengupta, Steven N. Wiggins: w15555
This paper investigates why passengers pay substantially different fares for travel on the same airline between the same two airports. We investigate questions that are fundamentally different from those in the existing literature on airline price dispersion. We use a unique new dataset to test between two broad classes of theories regarding airline pricing. The first group of theories, as advanced by Dana (1999b) and Gale and Holmes (1993), postulates that airlines practice scarcity based pricing and predicts that variation in ticket prices is driven by differences between high demand and low demand periods. The second group of theories is that airlines practice price discrimination by using ticketing restrictions to segment customers by willingness to pay. We use a unique dataset, a ...
February 2005Understanding Strategic Bidding in Restructured Electricity Markets: A Case Study of ERCOT
with Ali Hortacsu: w11123
We examine the bidding behavior of firms competing on ERCOT, the hourly electricity balancing market in Texas. We characterize an equilibrium model of bidding into this uniform-price divisible-good auction market. Using detailed firm-level data on bids and marginal costs of generation, we find that firms with large stakes in the market performed close to theoretical benchmarks of static, profit-maximizing bidding derived from our model. However, several smaller firms utilized excessively steep bid schedules that deviated significantly from our theoretical benchmarks, in a manner that could not be empirically accounted for by the presence of technological adjustment costs, transmission constraints, or collusive behavior. Our results suggest that payoff scale matters in firms' willingness an...

Published: Hortacsu, Ali and Steven Puller. “Understanding Strategic Bidding in Multi-Unit Auctions: A Case Study of the Texas Electricity Spot Market.” RAND Journal of Economics 39 (Spring 2008): 86-114.

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers onlyInformation about this author at RePEc

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