There is considerable controversy whether price spikes in energy markets represent demand shifts in the presence of inelastic supply or strategic withholding by suppliers. This paper sets out a new method for distinguishing the two possible explanations, namely, determining whether supply shifts to the left during periods of high demand. Such behavior would be inconsistent with ordinary profit-maximization, that is, “business by usual methods.” This approach is applied to a period of unusually high prices in the New York wholesale electricity market in 2001. There is evidence of strategic withholding for one brief period.
Review of Industrial Organization – Springer Journals
Published: May 7, 2011
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