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Evaluation of the Impact of New Rules in FCC’s Spectrum Incentive Auction

By Elizabeth Lim, Akshaya Trivedi and Frances Mitchell

On March 29, 2016, the FCC initiated its first ever two-sided spectrum auction. The auction closed approximately one year later, having repurposed a total of 84 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum. The “Incentive Auction” included three primary components: (1) a reverse auction where broadcasters bid on the price at which they would voluntarily relinquish their current spectrum usage rights, (2) a forward ascending clock auction for flexible use wireless licenses which determined the winning bids for licenses within a given geographic region, and (3) an assignment phase, where winning bidders from the forward auction participated in single-bid, second price sealed auctions to determine the exact frequencies individual licenses would be assigned within that geographic region. The reverse auction and the forward auction together constituted a “stage.” To guarantee that sufficient MHz were cleared, the auction included a “final stage rule” which, if not met, triggered a clearing of the previous stage and the start of a new stage. This rule led to a total of four stages taking place in the Incentive Auction before the final assignment phase took place. Even at first glance, the Incentive Auction is unique among FCC spectrum auctions. Here we consider the estimated true valuation for these licenses based on market conditions. We further compare these results to more recent outcomes in previous FCC spectrum auctions for wireless services to determine if this novel auction mechanism
impacted auction outcomes.

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Advisor: Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: L5, O3, K2, D44, L96

Regulatory Uncertainty: The Impact of the 2015 Open Internet Order on Broadband Infrastructure Investment

By Dane Bourcy Burkholder and Chin Jie Lim

This paper analyzes the impact of the United States Federal Communication’s (FCC) March 2015 Open Internet Order (OIO) on broadband infrastructure investment outcomes such as changes in speed of services, market entry. We find that higher broadband investment levels deter potential entrants and may weed out competition amongst incumbent ISPs from December 2014 to December 2016. The 2015 OIO appears to have negatively impacted the probability of an ISP entering a census block for the first time by 7.17% during any six-month time periods from June 2015 to December 2016 compared to the time period from June 2010 to December 2014.

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Advisor: Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D21, D25, D42, L20, L50, L96

Increased Foreign Revenue Shares in the United States Film Industry: 2000 – 2014

By Victoria Lim

The American film industry, which has historically been driven by the domestic market, now receives an increasing proportion of its revenue from abroad (foreign share)To determine the factors influencing this trend, this paper analyzed data from 11 countries of 2,337 American films released during 2000  2014Both film and country attributes were analyzed to determine each attribute’s effect on foreign share, whether its effect size has changed over time and whether each attribute has changed in frequency amongst films released. The results identified six attributes, star actors, sequels, releases in top markets, release time lag, GDP growth and a match in languagethat contributed to the increase in foreign share over this period

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Advisor: James Roberts, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: F40, L82, Z11 | Tagged: Foreign Share, International Box Office Revenue, Motion Picture Industry

Predicting Transfer Values in the English Premier League

By Dylan Newman

This paper examines factors that affect the transfer value of players transferred into the English Premier League from 20092015. The analysis begins by examining what factors are significant in determining a player’s projected transfer fee based on the website Transfermarkt.com as well as the actual fee that the player was sold for. The paper goes on to find that competition level and a player’s form are not statistically significant in models built to determine a player’s transfer value. Quantile regression is then used to illustrate that there is a superstar effect with a forward’s goal’s scored in the transfer market. 

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Advisor: Kent Kimbrough, Peter Arcidiacon | JEL Codes: L83, Z21 | Tagged: English Premier League, Quantile Regression, Soccer Transfer Fee

The Effect of Social, Cultural, and Political Values on Entrepreneurial Perceptions and Venture Creation: A Global Investigation

By Repton Salisbury

The effect of entrepreneurial activity on economic development has been researched thoroughly. New firm creation spurs economic growth by creating employment opportunities, cultivating innovation, and encouraging competition. Globally, there are countless areas that could benefit from a livelier entrepreneurial ecosystem. So how does a government or population first spur entrepreneurial activity? An entrepreneur’s perceptions are among the most powerful factors that impact the life or death of a new venture, but the determinants that influence how these perceptions first form are still largely unknown. Using survey data collected by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in 2010 across the United States, Japan, Switzerland, Israel, United Kingdom, Peru, Russia, Iran, and China, I conduct binary logistic regressions of individual level characteristics, social ideals, cultural norms, human development, and other environmental attributes on the most important perceptions of entrepreneurs. These perceptions have been identified by previous research as an entrepreneur’s perception of local opportunities, internal skills, and fear of failure in creating a new venture. I find that several social, cultural, and political values have a significant effect on the psychological behavior of nascent entrepreneurs.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Grace Kim | JEL Codes: L2, L26, O17 | Tagged: Culture, Entrepreneurship, Perceptions, Venture Creation

Deterring Ineffcient Gambling in Risk-Taking Agents

By Ryan Westphal

This paper proposes a model describing the incentive issues faced by prin-
cipals and agents when the agent has limited liability and is capable of un-
dertaking unidentifiable, inefficient risky behavior. We propose a contract
structure by which the principal deters risk by deferring payment to the
agent until she reaches an absorbing steady-state in which promised equity
alone deters inefficient behavior. The paper discusses the effect of exogenous
parameters on the tradeoffs facing the principal as well as the implications
they have on the efficient choice of contract. We also outline extensions to
the model in which the principal has access to a costly monitoring technology
to identify inefficient risk taking. The theoretical results have implications
for real-world employment contracts and practices in financial firms such as
investment banks and private equity funds.

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Advisor: Curtis Taylor | JEL Codes: D82, D86, G32, L14 | Tagged: Contract Theory, Moral Hazard., Optimal Contracts, Risk Management

How does being a Serial Creator affect Probability of Campaign Success on Kickstarter?

By Minn Khine

This paper seeks to address the issue of how being a serial creator impacts campaign success on Kickstarter. My hypothesis is that being a serial creator – someone who has created 2 or more projects on Kickstarter – has a positive effect on probability of campaign success but there are diminishing marginal returns to this effect. A regression analysis over a sample of over 187 thousand Kickstarter projects from its inception in 2008 until December 2014 yields the following findings, which supports my hypothesis. I found that being a serial creator does have a positive effect on campaign success but there is diminishing marginal returns to being a serial creator. Furthermore, number of updates, number of reward levels, having a video, number of backers, FB Shares, FB Friends, and Number of Projects Backed all have positive effects on campaign success. On the other hand, comments, funding goal, and duration have negative effects on campaign success. The effect of the Fed Fund Rate on campaign success is inconclusive. In terms of how project characteristics and creator characteristics affect first time creators and serial creators differently, I found that Updates, Video, FBShares, FBFriends, and Goal matter less as number of projects created increases, in other words, for serial creators who’ve gathered more project experience. On the other hand, Rewards, Backers, ProjectsBacked, Comments, and Duration matter more as number of projects created increases.

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Advisor: Edward Tower, Grace Kim | JEL Codes: G21, G24, L26 | Tagged: Crowdfunding, Kickstarter, Serial creator

Resource Adequacy and Energy-Only Market Design: Assessing The Impact of ERCOT’s Operating Reserve Demand Curve1

By Max Lipscomb

I examine the effect of an Operating Reserve Demand Curve (ORDC) which was recently implemented in Texas to assist power producers in recovering their fixed investment costs. I characterize and employ an economic plant dispatch model to examine the ORDC’s effects on representative natural gas plants in Texas, allowing me to determine whether or not the ORDC is likely to induce new capital deployment. I find that the ORDC’s positive effects are minimal and likely negated by the policy’s complexity, sending unclear signals to prospective investors. My results suggest that the policy itself is insufficient to incentivize the construction of new generation capacity in Texas’s electricity market.

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Advisor: James Roberts | JEL Codes: L9, L94, L97 | Tagged: Demand Curve, Electricity, Energy-only Operting Reserve, ERCOT Texas, Resource Adequacy, Utility Power

Competition from Incumbent Firms During Mergers: Estimating the Effect of Low-Cost Carriers on Post-Merger Prices

By Jonathan Gao

In an evaluation of a merger, the type of existing competitors in the market should play a role in constraining market power following the merger. In the airline industry, heterogeneity between low-cost carriers (LCCs) and legacy carriers suggest that the types of airline competitors could affect the price effects of a merger. This paper investigates the pro-competitive effects that existing, non-merging airline carriers have on prices when an airline merger occurs. Using data in the years around the 2008 merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines, the results show that average price levels of Delta and Northwest dropped after the merger, with larger price decreases on routes with LCC competitors. There is evidence that incumbent LCC competitors have a larger influence than legacy competitors in restricting post-merger prices and market power, confirming that the type of competitors matters in assessing the level of competition in a market. This paper also shows that much of the cost efficiencies from the merger were concentrated on routes with a hub of Delta or Northwest.

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Advisor: James Roberts | JEL Codes: L0, L11, L13 | Tagged: Airline Competition, Airline Merger, Market Structure

Optimizing the Electricity Bill Creating a two-part electricity tariffs to induce a targeted level of rooftop solar adoption while meeting utility operating expenses

By Hoel Weisner

Renewable energy technologies are a much needed, clean alternative to the conventional fossil fuel electricity power plants of the last century. The market for installing solar panels on rooftops is a highly promising avenue for expanding the use of these technologies, but its profitability depends significantly on the electricity prices offered by electric utilities. Investing in solar panels offset a percentage of the electricity purchased from the utility. This paper models the investment decision of electricity consumers and looks at what the optimal per unit price of electricity should be in order to make building solar panels a profitable decision for a target share of households. The model shows how this optimal rate decreases at lower prices of investing, when the share of utility-purchased electricity offset by the panels increases, and when the target level of solar adoption decreases. Finally, it looks at how this per unit rate impacts the utility’s decision to set a fixed monthly charge for electricity in order to recover all of its operating expenses.

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Advisor: Leslie Marx | JEL Codes: L94, Q42, Q48 | Tagged: Electricity Price, Renewable Energy, Solar Electricity

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Jennifer Becker
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Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu