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RPI – X Regulation Nick Crafts (University of Warwick)

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1 RPI – X Regulation Nick Crafts (University of Warwick)

2 Regulation of Privatized Industries Regulate to prevent abuse of market power in cases of natural monopoly or high entry barriers British approach based on price capping whereas traditional American version used rate of return RPI – X aims to stimulate cost reduction as well as preventing high price cost margins

3 Productivity and Prices In a competitive market p=mc=LAC (including a normal rate of return on capital) In the absence of productivity growth, over time output prices would rise at the same rate as (the weighted average) of input prices More generally, output prices in a competitive market rise at the rate of growth of input prices minus productivity (TFP) growth

4 Price Capping If prices are allowed to rise at RPI-X, the industry will be able to maintain normal profits providing it achieves TFP growth equal to the national average, TFP UK, + X If TFP growth is greater than (less than) TFP UK + X, the formula implies supernormal (subnormal) profits

5 RPI-X vs Rate of Return: Key Arguments RPI-X Strong incentives for cost reduction and innovation BUT Quality may suffer Prices exceed costs on average RATE OF RETURN Prices stay in line with costs Quality assured BUT Likelihood of excessive investment Weak incentives for productivity improvement

6 The Averch-Johnson Problem Rate of return regulation which allows the firm to earn a rate of return above the cost of capital encourages the firm to accumulate an excessive capital stock The equity value of the firm will be proportional to the capital stock and, provided the allowed rate of return is above the cost of capital, the share price will be positively related to the capital stock Have to rely on the regulator to identify unnecessary projects and disallow them from the cost base

7 The Water Industry Regulation is a hybrid Its the Averch-Johnson problem that we should fear in the long-run ….. especially given populist pressures Excessive capital stock encouraged by –de-luxe quality directives –ensuring no supply interruptions –no peak load pricing Key question: is marginal benefit (willingness to pay) less than long-run marginal cost?

8 RPI-X Regulation: Further Points Optimal length of price reviews trades off gains from cost reduction against losses from excessive prices …. is shorter the lower is the sensitivity of costs to cost- reducing effort and the higher is price elasticity of demand Mitigating regulatory risk with sunk costs through credible commitment by regulator is desirable Uncertainty lowers advantages of price caps if need to ensure non-negative profits Setting X well requires good way of estimating potential for productivity improvement

9 Managerial Effort and Productivity Growth Implementing productivity improvements/cost reductions requires managerial effort, i.e. has disutility for managers Monitoring managers in context of asymmetric information encounters free rider problems in private sector and may offer no reward in public sector Competition is antidote to agency problem

10 Privatization and Managerial Effort Asymmetric information does not go away Private shareholders may improve monitoring/incentivizing of managers Competition may increase Regulator may have to try and compensate for weaknesses of shareholders and/or competition

11 Privatization and Productivity Performance (Green and Haskel, 2004) TFP growth raised by the privatization process not by private ownership per se Productivity growth increased in some cases as X factor made more demanding (e.g. water) Regulation central to quality implications of RPI-X incentive structure Overall picture is dominated by levels effect of eliminating inefficiency

12 Total factor productivity in the UK public sector (annual rate of increase, %) 72/3-78/978/9-86/786/7-99/00 British Airways Privatised /3-78/978/9-86/786/7-93/4 British Coal Privatised /3-78/978/9-86/786/7-94/5 British Gas Privatised /3-78/978/9-88/988/9-97/8 British Steel Privatised /3-78/978/9-84/584/5-94/5 British Telecom Privatised 1984

13 Source: O'Mahony (1998) Comparative Productivity: electricity, gas and water sectors, (UK = 100) Total Factor Productivity Labour Factor Productivity

14 Regulated Prices in the UK

15 Conclusions Productivity performance in privatized utilities may be affected by the incentive structures of the regulatory framework In practice, not clear that RPI-X has generally been a strong driver of TFP growth Introducing competition where possible delivers stronger incentives to improve productivity

16 GROUP WORK 1.When would you expect regulation to have a powerful impact on the productivity performance of a privatized business? 2.How should a regulator decide the precise value of X at a price review?

17 Regulation and UK Productivity Performance Nick Crafts (University of Warwick)

18 Costs and Benefits of Regulation Regulation that corrects market failures provides gains from a more efficient allocation of resources Regulation also incurs costs so it is relevant to ask how benefits compare with costs The costs of regulation may be felt in terms of lower GDP per person

19 Questions In what ways can regulation affect productivity outcomes? How good are measures of regulation? Is the UK lightly regulated? Does regulation actually have a big impact on labour productivity growth?

20 Regulation and Productivity Compliance costs have direct productivity implication Additional adverse impacts if disincentives to investment and to innovation May create barriers to entry that reduce competition Impact has not been well quantified

21 Compliance Costs Administrative Costs = 3 to 4% GDP and Policy Costs = 7 to 8% GDP (BRTF, 2005) Direct measurement effect will be to reduce measured TFP by an equivalent amount of productive resources diverted away from producing output No time series evidence on compliance costs but difficult to believe these direct effects have reduced annual TFP growth much in recent past

22 Regulation as a Tax Investment and innovation are key determinants of labour productivity growth Appropriable returns underpin incentives to investment and to innovate Regulation may reduce net present value of projects For example, employment protection and ICT expenditures (Gust and Marquez, 2004)

23 Regulation as Barrier to Entry For example, costs of setting up new business, licensing rules, planning restrictions Empirical evidence of cross-country comparisons shows tighter regulation reduces entry and raises price-cost mark-ups (Cincera and Galgan, 2005; Griffith et al., 2006) Retailing productivity growth example of regulatory barriers having seriously adverse impact in Europe compared with US (McGuckin et al., 2005) in ICT era

24 Competition and Productivity Growth Absence of competition allows managers to be sleepy if ineffective control/monitoring by shareholders Competition is strongly positive for productivity outcomes in UK firms without dominant shareholder (Nickell et al., 1997) Competition promotes better management practices (Bloom and van Reenen, 2006) Patenting performance of UK firms suggests inverted U-shaped relationship with price-cost margin which peaks at about 20% (Aghion et al., 2005)

25 Policy Impact on Rate of Technology Adoption Competition Policy PositiveNegative Industrial Policy PositiveNegative MaximizingAgency Problems Firm Type Maximizing Firms Competition Policy lowers expected profit from innovation Industrial Policy raises expected profit from innovation Agency Problem Firms Competition Policy cuts rents and raises cost-reducing effort Industrial Policy pays subsidies and lowers cost-reducing effort

26 Regulation and the Growth Rate If regulation is a disincentive to investment and innovation, they will be lower as a result Endogenous growth models predict that the rate of growth will be adversely affected This would be the most serious consequence of excessive regulation rather than the diversion of resources through conventional compliance costs

27 Measuring Regulation Evidence on compliance costs quite limited Investigators looking at relationship between regulation and productivity performance have used indices constructed by OECD, World Bank and surveys of expert opinion conducted by IMD, World Economic Forum etc. Both product market and labour market indices available BUT how good are they?

28 Measures of Regulation Subjective vs Objective Comprehensive? Take account of enforcement and litigation? Include extraneous aspects?

29 IMD Survey Questions Business Regulations: Regulation intensity does not restrain the ability of companies to compete Labour Regulations: Labour regulations do not generally hinder business activities

30 OECD Regulation Indices Product Market Regulation (Conway et al., 2005): index designed to reflect the extent to which the regulatory environment is conducive to competition including indicators of state control, barriers to entrepreneurship Employment Protection (OECD, 2004): index designed to reflect legislation as employer-borne tax on employment adjustment including difficulty of dismissal and extent of severance pay

31 Is the UK Lightly Regulated? OECD measures say yes Subjective indicators more equivocal, cf. IMD scores where UK has been slipping down the league Overall, within OECD UK closer to relatively liberal group including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, USA than the relatively strict group including France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain

32 Business Regulations, 2005 (0-10) (Source: IMD, 2005)

33 Source: IMD, 2005 Labour Regulations, 2005 (0-10)

34 Source: Conway et al., (2005) Product Market Regulation (0-10) France Germany Italy Spain UK USA

35 Product Market Regulation and Productivity Growth Regulation that creates barriers to entry raises mark- ups and reduces innovation, investment and productivity growth (Griffith and Harrison, 2004; Griffith et al., 2006) At the macro level de-regulation has been associated with better TFP growth (Nicoletti and Scarpetta, 2003) Product market regulation is negatively correlated with the contribution of ICT-using services to aggregate productivity growth (Nicoletti & Scarpetta, 2005) UK shows up well on OECD measures compared with other European countries

36 Multifactor productivity acceleration and product market regulation Difference in average MFP growth rate between and Adjusted for hours worked Product market regulation, inward oriented, 1998 Correlation coefficient t-statistic Source: Nicoletti & Scarpetta (2005)

37 Regulation and the contribution of ICT-using services to aggregate productivity growth ICT using services, Product market regulation (inward-oriented), 1998 Correlation coefficient: t-statistic: Source: Nicoletti & Scarpetta (2005)

38 Source: GGDC, 2004 Retail Trade: Labour Productivity Growth (% per year) US EU Germany UK France Italy1.31.1

39 Implications for Regulatory Impact Assessments The Competition Assessment component is important In practice, this is often cursory and there is scope for more timely liaison with OFT (National Audit Office, 1006) Traffic Light Scores: Is the competition filter (5 yes out of 9) in the RIA too weak?

40 ICT Expenditure and Employment Protection Legislation Are inversely correlated Firing costs delay adoption of ICT … but do not generally deter investment Effective use of ICT often involves upgrading labour force skills and re- organization, i.e. labour turnover

41 Nickell (2005) Employment Protection Index (0-10) France Germany Italy Spain UK1.75 USA

42 IT Expenditures and Employment Protection Legislation Employment Protection Legislation, Index, 1998 AU US UK CA FI SE NE NO IT SP JA GE FR Correlation = IT Expenditures (% of GDP), 1999

43 Reduction in PMR and UK Productivity Performance Nicoletti and Scarpetta (2003) results imply UK has had modest TFP growth advantage over France and Germany in the past 20 years This is reflected in decline in TFP (but not other) component of labour productivity gap.

44 Sources: Broadberry & O'Mahony (2006); Crafts & O'Mahony (2001) A Decomposition of UK Labour Productivity Gap (percentage points) France/UKGermany/UK 1979 Labour Productivity Gap3130 Labour Quality65 Physical Capital179 TFP Labour Productivity Gap2117 Labour Quality44 Physical Capital1712 TFP01 Note: In 1979 Germany is West Germany only.

45 Source: Nicoletti and Scarpetta (2005) Change in TFP Growth over 10 years from Adopting Best Regulatory Practice (% points)

46 Conclusions Regulation does have implications for TFP In particular, this is true of regulation that inhibits competition Administrative costs of compliance are not the key issue

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