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Irreversible exit decisions under mean-reverting uncertainty

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Economics
Issue number1
Volume110
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)5-23
Publication statusPublished
Early online date1/04/13
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Although many economic variables of interest exhibit a tendency to revert to long-run levels, mean reverting processes are rarely used in investment and disinvestment models in the literature. Previous work by Sarkar (J Econ Dyn Control 28(2):377–396, 2003), that focuses on irreversible entry decisions, showed that mean reversion has three effects on investment: (a) the “variance effect” (mean reversion reduces the long-run uncertainty and thus brings closer the critical investment level), (b) the “realized price effect” (the lower variance resulting from mean reversion makes it less likely to reach extreme high or low price levels, thereby reducing the likelihood of reaching the investment trigger) and (c) the “risk discounting effect” (mean reversion lowers the required rate of return, which affects both the project value and the value of the real option to invest). Metcalf and Hassett (J Econ Dyn Control 19(8):1471–1488, 1995) and Sarkar (J Econ Dyn Control 28(2):377–396, 2003) showed that (a) and (b) work in opposite directions, essentially canceling each other out, however the effect of (c) depends on parameter values, making the overall effect (a–c) of mean reversion on entry decisions ambiguous and parameter-dependent. In this paper, we show that as far as irreversible exit decisions are concerned, the effect of mean reversion is negative: Mean reversion unambiguously lowers the rate of irreversible disinvestment/exit for reasonable parameter values, since the mean reversion in this case only affects the value of the real option to exit and not the value resulting from (real) option exercise.