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Stranded Capital in Fisheries

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  1. Stranded Capital in Fisheries Jim Wilen Department of Agric. & Resource Economics University of California, Davis March 2007

  2. Questions • What is stranded capital? • How has stranded capital been treated in other policy settings? • What are the potential effects on processors of IFQs? • When are stranded costs likely to be significant? • What are the arguments for considering these effects? • How should we measure stranded capital? • What mechanisms can be used to address impacts?

  3. Stranded Capital: the Policy Context • Deregulation wave of 1980s: trucking, airlines, gas production, electricity • Electricity Deregulation of 1990s • Prices deregulated--competitive market for power • Inefficient investments no longer guaranteed ROR (particularly high capital cost nuclear plants) • Some long term contracts above market prices (green power, co-gen, small scale hydro) • Utilities argued: investments/contracts induced by old regulations and unprofitable under new deregulated policy arena were “stranded”

  4. Stranded Capital: the Compensation Arguments • Implicit “regulatory compact” between firms and regulators • Failure to ensure rate of return is breach of implicit regulatory compact • Without compensation, utility investments may be seen as more risky, cost of capital and prices to consumers may rise, reducing benefits of deregulations • Unfair to investors to reduce value of shares by regulatory action---a “takings”

  5. Responses to Stranded Capital Compensation Arguments • Regulatory response • Compensation was not an issue in trucking, airlines, banking, and natural gas deregulation • Large size of stranded capital claims in electricity; ongoing debate over compensation is holding up some deregulation • Legal responses • Courts have not supported notion of breach of “regulatory compact” • Courts have not upheld idea that failure to compensate is a “takings” • Economists’ responses • Risk of deregulation and its impact already taken into account in capital investment decision, so stranded capital has already been compensated • Compensation a distributional decision; unlikely to promote efficiency • My take • We should at least attempt to measure all benefits/costs of regulatory changes including, if important, stranded capital losses

  6. Stranded Capital in Fisheries • Notion first appeared in Alaska crab rationalization debates • Backdrop: halibut experience in BC and Alaska • Pre ITQ: derby, compressed season, frozen product, concentrated processing, isolated processor locations • Post ITQs: fresh product, longer season, slower pace, new markets and new buyers,niche handlers • Argument: crab processors needed protection • Stranded capital will become worthless • Owners of such capital will suffer losses during transition • Alaska crab rationalization • Intricate scheme of processor IPQs, locked-in delivery options • No attempt to actually measure potential stranded capital

  7. Preconditions for Stranded Capital to be a Significant Problem • Major change in product form that can be ascribed specifically to change in regulations • Contributing economic factors • Highly compressed derby fishery • Highly competitive processing sector • Technological factors • Processing is capital intensive • Capital is specialized to one species • Capital is specialized to one product

  8. Likely Impacts of IFQs on West Coast Groundfish Processors • Non-whiting Groundfish • Model: BC groundfish IFQ program vs. BC halibut • Value added opportunities for incumbents • More uniform harvesting--elimination of surges • More allocation to higher valued fresh markets • Market deepening--uniform supply, reliability, product specs • Continued use of hand fillet processing • Landings coordination with harvesters • Moderate entry of new handlers--niche development, market broadening, diffused community handling • Inshore Whiting • Model: Alaska pollock fishery • Slower paced and longer fishery • Optimized raw fish condition • More product recovery • Increased product form flexibility

  9. Stranded Capital in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery? • Groundfish: conditions differ from Alaskan halibut and crab fisheries • Trip limits have been implemented to prevent derby conditions • Product flow spread over season with only small surges • Delivery agreements and coordination in place • Processing plants not isolated from markets and transportation network • Not likely to be a regulation-induced shift in the center of fishing activities • Fishing, processing and marketing in close proximity • Markets developed for diversity of products already • Highly concentrated processing sector

  10. Stranded Capital in the Pacific Coast Whiting Fishery? • Some conditions similar to pre-AFA Alaskan inshore pollock: • Race to fish • Conditions differ in other ways: • Shoreside processing more highly concentrated • Mixed product forms already developed • Strong markets for fillets, weakening surimi markets • Surimi product quality differences • Processing plants not isolated from markets and transportation network • Fishing, processing and marketing in close proximity

  11. Compensating Stranded Processor Capital: for and against • Arguments for: failing to compensate is unfair • Causes capital value losses to owners • Arguments against: compensating causes future inefficiencies • Sunk capital already compensated in original investment • IFQ compensation gives processors market power; increases bargaining strength vis a vis harvesters • Compensation gives incumbents advantage over prospective entrants • freezes existing patterns of harvesting, marketing, products • Compensation encourages future process holdup

  12. Measuring Stranded Capital Costs • Distinction between costs of capital and value of capital • Value of capital depends upon its next best alternative use • Land and warehouse space • Storage space • Offloading, pumps, chilling tanks • Flash freezing • Filleting/surimi machine • Attributing stranded costs • Policy relevant stranded capital • Apportioning shared capital • Key question: exactly what capital becomes “worthless” as result of regulatory change?

  13. Mechanisms for Compensating Stranded Capital Costs • Granting permanent IFQ allocations to processors • Lump sum compensation • Grants • Loan and landings tax • Loan and transfer tax on IFQ transactions • Processing/harvester lock-in • landings requirements (sliding, sunset) • Fractional set-aside of IFQ • Auctioned to generate compensation fund (sliding, sunset)

  14. Important Administrative Process Issues • Importance of measurement • Burden of proof: tying to stranded capital value • Codification of definitions/accounting procedures • Setting a threshold; transactions costs • Assessing spillovers • Altering power balance between harvesters and processors • Creating incumbent advantages • precedent • One time resolution vs. permanent distortion

  15. Summary • Little precedent for compensating stranded costs • However, good policy making requires informed decisions, including understanding potential losses • The preconditions to generate significant stranded costs in Pacific Coast non-whiting groundfish fishery do not seem present • Possibly an argument for whiting but value of stranded capital not likely to be high • Burden of proof should rest with industry to make explicit estimate of verifiable stranded capital losses • Bad policy to make a “guess” about numbers, and then lock in a permanent distortion of IFQ system • Currently suggested fixes seem implausibly high--eg 25% IFQ allocation implies 75 million dollar capital losses

  16. What is the Real Problem Here? • Is the issue really stranded capital? Or is it: • Capturing the rents--groundfish • 30,000 MT x 2200=66,000,000 lbs • BC mixed prices: 0.25 lease; 3.00 sale • $16,500,000 lease market • $198,000,000 asset value • Rent Estimates--whiting • 85,000 MTx2200=187,000,000 lbs • Alaska prices (adj): 0.04 lease; 0.48 sale • $7,500,000 lease market • $90,000,000 asset value • Bargaining Power: processors vs. harvesters • Reducing competition for incumbents