The States’ Regulatory Climate: Distortion in Public Utility Underwriting Costs
Article publication date: 22 April 1991
This study examines the distortive effects of the states’ regulatory climate on the underwriting costs of new equity issues of public utilities. Each state has its own public utility commission (or public service commission) to regulate the natural monopolies of public utilities. The wealth‐maximizing behavior of utilities is constrained by the rate‐making process monitored by the commissions. The policies of a state’s commission collectively establish the ’regulatory climate’ in that state. Using a sample of new equity securities issued, during the period from January 1973 through September 1980, by utilities listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, we investigate the effect of the regulatory climate on underwriting costs. Our findings are that,in general, the direct costs of flotation, namely, underwriting commissions and out‐of‐pocket expenses,are positively related to regulatory climate where as the indirect cost of flotation, namely, underpricing of the new issue, is negatively related to regulatory climate. These results are counter intuitive since they imply that as the regulatory climate becomes more unfavorable the direct costs of flotation increase and the indirect cost of flotation decreases. This is clearly a distortive effect of the regulation and we offer some explanations for it.
Gorman, R.F. and Vora, G. (1991), "The States’ Regulatory Climate: Distortion in Public Utility Underwriting Costs", American Journal of Business, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 45-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/19355181199100008
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