Resource Allocation Under the COWPS Price Guideline

The Case of Fixed Proportions

by Frank Camm, Charles E. Phelps, Peter Stan


Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 2.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback60 pages $23.00 $18.40 20% Web Discount

Evidence points toward the Council of Wage and Price Stability (COWPS) price guidelines as the constraint causing U.S. petroleum refinery shortages during 1979-1980. This report develops the theory of a profit-maximizing firm's behavior when complying with a COWPS-like restraint. Results include: (1) When the production technology displays a certain type of fixed proportions (as appears relevant for refineries), shortages can — but need not — emerge. (2) Product output decreases in response to the COWPS control, causing market prices to rise. (3) Product supply diminishes as market demand increases. (4) Use of some factors, e.g., crude oil, increases as factor prices increase, which, because of fixed proportions, implies expanded product output. (5) Product mix likely shifts towards lower-grade products. (6) Dispersion of product prices across firms increases. (7) Relative product prices for a multiproduct firm become indeterminant. Casual empirical evidence supports the relevance of this theory.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.