Publication Date

January 2000

Publication Details

This working paper was originallu published as Levy, A, From Hotelling to Backstop Technology, Working Paper 00-04, Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, 2000.


Hotelling’s conceptual framework is expanded to incorporate the effects of a backstop technology on the planning horizon of the suppliers of an exhaustible resource and its price and quantity trajectories. It is shown that in the non-trivial case, the presence of a backstop technology shortens the planning horizon of the suppliers of the exhaustible resource in accordance with the resource suppliers’ rate of time preference, backstop technology’s rate of improvement and ratio of the initial resource spot price to the initial average production cost of the backstop substitute. As expected the presence of a backstop technology also lowers the spot prices of the exhaustible resource and accelerates its extraction and depletion. However, a decline of the initial average cost of producing the backstop substitute by a dollar leads to a decline of the exhaustible resource’s initial spot price by less than a dollar.