Fall 2011

Fall 2011

February 17, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
Do Americans Consume Too Little Natural Gas? An Empirical Test of Marginal Cost Pricing
Erich Muehlegger, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Abstract: This seminar discusses the extent to which regulated prices for natural gas exceed marginal costs. Research finds strong evidence that regulators set high per-unit markups for natural gas, with residential and commercial customers facing average markups of over 40%. These markups are equivalent to a carbon tax of over $200 / ton of carbon ($60 per ton of CO2), which is substantially higher than the carbon price envisioned by most policy makers. This suggests that if policymakers wanted to set an efficient price for natural gas that incorporated the cost of carbon emissions, they should LOWER natural gas prices.
> Read the Paper
> View the Presentation

October 20, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
Regulatory Capture: A New Look at an Old Problem

David A. Moss, John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Abstract: In recent years, the study of regulatory capture has begun to turn a corner.  An early focus on models of regulatory decision making is increasingly being complemented by fine-grained empirical work on regulation and the role of special-interest groups in the regulatory process.  Drawing on a forthcoming volume, Preventing Capture: Special Interest Influence in Regulation and How to Limit It, the talk will highlight some of the implications of this new empirical orientation, including more accurate assessments of when capture does and does not occur and novel ideas about how capture might actually be prevented (or at least substantially limited) in practice.  Examples will be provided from several regulatory areas, with a special focus on broadcast regulation.
> Read the story in HKS News about this seminar.
> Read a working draft of Prof. Moss' chapter, part a book he has edited on regulatory capture.

October 28, 2011
12:00-1:00pm, Fainsod L-324
Making Markets Work Better: Student Experiences in Regulatory Policy

Pascal Galicia Duran (MPA/ID'13), Pascal Noel (PhD Student, FAS Economics Dept); Tugay Yilmaz (MPA/ID'13)
Moderated by Prof. Joseph Aldy
> Read the story in HKS News about this seminar

November 3, 2011
11:45am—1:00pm, Bell Hall
The Economics of Housing Finance Reform

David S. Scharfstein, Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Finance and Banking, Harvard Business School
Paper: The Economics of Housing Finance Reform by David S. Scharstein and Adi Sundera
Abstract: This presentation will analyze the two leading types of proposals for reform of the housing finance system: (i) broad-based, explicit, priced government guarantees of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and (ii) privatization. Both proposals have drawbacks. Properly-priced guarantees would have little effect on mortgage interest rates relative to unguaranteed mortgage credit during normal times, and would expose taxpayers to moral-hazard risk with little benefit. Privatization reduces, but does not eliminate, the government’s exposure to mortgage credit risk. It also leaves the economy and financial system exposed to destabilizing boom and bust cycles in mortgage credit. Based on this analysis, we argue that the main goal of housing finance reform should be financial stability, not the reduction of mortgage interest rates. To this end, we propose that the private market should be the main supplier of mortgage credit, but that it should be carefully regulated. This will require new approaches to regulating mortgage securitization. Moreover, we argue that while government guarantees of MBS have little value in normal times, they can be valuable in periods of significant stress to the financial system, such as in the recent financial crisis.  Thus, we propose the creation of a government-owned corporation that would play the role of “guarantor-of-last-resort” of newly-issued (not legacy) MBS during periods of crisis.
> Read the story in HKS News about this seminar

November 10, 2011
12:30-2:00pm, Bell Hall
Countdown to Rio+20: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development

John Matuszak, Division Chief for Sustainable Development and Multilateral Affairs, U.S. State Department; Jorge Laguna Celis, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations; Felix Dodds, Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum
Moderated by Prof. Joseph Aldy
Sponsored by the Energy and Environment PIC
> Read the story about this event.

December 8, 2011
11:45-1:00pm, Bell Hall
Promoting Safety, Protecting the Environment and Conserving Offshore Resources Through Vigorous Regulatory Oversight and Enforcement

Michael R. Bromwich, Director, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, US Department of Interior
Abstract: In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama Administration launched the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to ensure the safe development of offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history. Director Bromwich will discuss how the administration is working to enhance the operational safety and environmental protection of oil and gas drilling and production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.
> Read the story about this event.