Green industrial policy, information asymmetry, and repayable advance

Guy MeunierJean-Pierre PonssardPublicationsPublicationsResearch areaResearch FellowsSectoral PoliciesComments Off on Green industrial policy, information asymmetry, and repayable advance
Author(s) :
Guy Meunier, Jean‐Pierre Ponssard

Article published in the Journal of public economic theory

The energy transition requires the deployment of risky research and development programs, most of which are partially financed by public funding. Recent recovery plans, associated with the COVID‐19 pandemic and the energy transition, increased the funding available to finance innovative low‐carbon projects and called for an economic evaluation of their allocation.

This paper analyzes the potential benefit of using repayable advance: a lump‐sum payment to finance the project that is paid back in case of success. The relationship between the state and innovative firms is formalized in the principal‐agent framework. Investing in an innovative project requires an initial observable capital outlay. We introduce asymmetric information on the probability of success, which is known to the firm but not to the state agency. The outcome of the project, if successful, delivers a private benefit to the firm and an external social benefit to the state. In this context a repayable advance consists in rewarding failure. We prove that it is a superior strategy in the presence of pure adverse selection. We investigate under what conditions this result could be extended in the presence of moral hazard. Implications for green industrial policy are discussed.

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