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The Long and Winding Road: Valuing Investment under Construction Uncertainty

Jacco J.J. Thijssen

Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: This paper presents a model of investment in projects that are characterized by (i) uncertainty over both the construction costs and revenues, and (ii) revenues that accrue only after construction is completed. Both processes are modeled as spectrally negative Levy jump-diffusions. The optimal stopping problem that determines the value of the project is solved under fairly general assumptions. It is found that the threshold for the benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) beyond which investment is optimal is higher than when investment costs are sunk and upfront. In addition, the current value of the BCR decreases sharply in the frequency of negative shocks to the construction process. This implies that the cost overruns that can be expected if one ignores such shocks are sharply increasing in their frequency. Based on calibrated data, the model is applied to the construction of high-speed rail in the UK and it is found that the economic case for the first phase of High Speed 2 cannot be made and is unlikely to be met in the next 10 years.

Keywords: Investment under Uncertainty; Infrastructure investment; Optimal stopping (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C61 G31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ppm, nep-tre and nep-ure
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:yor:yorken:13/20

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