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College of Business

Charles F. Mason
H.A. "Dave" True, Jr. Professor of Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics

Charles Mason is the H. A. "Dave" True, Jr. Chair in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics in the Department of Economics and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Business at the University of Wyoming. He is an internationally known scholar with over 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. He served as the managing editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (the top international journal in the field of Environmental and Resource Economics), from 2006 to 2011. Currently, he is a Co-Editor for Economic Inquiry, an Associate Editor of the European Economic Review, joint editor-in-chief of Strategic Behavior and the Environment, and a Co-Editor for the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. He earned a double B.A. in Economics and Mathematics in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1983, all at the University of California at Berkeley. 

PhD (Economics), University of California, Berkeley
BA (Economics; Mathematics), University of California, Berkeley

Curriculum Vitae - short version

Curriculum Vitae - full version

Research Interests: Environmental and Resource Economics, Energy Economics, Industrial Organization, Applied Game Theory

Teaching: Game Theory, Economics of Uncertainty, Dynamic Optimization, Environmental and Resource Economics, and Industrial Organization, Oil and Gas Economics

Recent Publications:

Mason, Charles F. and Gavin Roberts, “Price Elasticity of Supply and Productivity: An Analysis of Natural Gas Wells in Wyoming,” Energy Journal, 2018 v. 39(SI1) pp. 79-100.

Heyes, Anthony, Andrew J. Leach and Charles F. Mason, “The Economics of Oil Sands.” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 2018, 2018 v. 12, pp. 242-263.

Oliver, Matt and Charles F. Mason, “Natural Gas Pipeline Regulation in the United States: Past, Present and Future” Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, 2018 v. 11, pp. 227-289.

Mason, Charles F., Stephen Polasky and Nori Tarui, “Cooperation on Climate-Change Mitigation,” European Economic Review, 2017 v. 99, pp. 43-55. 

Mason, Charles F., “The U.S. Market for Uranium: 70 years of History,” Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, 2017 v. 11, pp. 141-226.

Mason, Charles F. and Neil Wilmot, “Price Discontinuities in the Market for RINs,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2016 v. 132 (Part B), pp. 79-97.

Mason, Charles F., “Climate Change and Migration: A Dynamic Model,” CESifo Economic Studies, 2017 v 63, pp. 421-444.

Wood, Aaron D., Charles F. Mason, and David Finnoff, “OPEC, the Seven Sisters, and Oil Market Dominance: An Evolutionary Game Theory and Agent-Based Modeling Approach,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2016 v. 132 (Part B), pp. 66-78.

Mason, Charles F. and Owen R. Phillips, “Imminent Entry and the Transition to Multimarket Rivalry: Messy Markets in a Laboratory Setting,” Journal of Economics & Management Strategy 2016 v. 25, pp. 1018-1039.

Mason, Charles F., “Concentration Trends in the Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Industry,” Energy Journal 2015, v36(SI1), pp. 215-236.

Mason, Charles F., Lucija A. Muehlenbachs, and Sheila M. Olmstead, “The Economics of Shale Gas Development,” Annual Review of Resource Economics 2015, v. 7, pp. 269-289.

Mason, Charles F., Victoria Umanskaya and Edward Barbier, “On the Strategic Use of Border Tax Adjustments as a Second-Best Climate Policy Measure,” Environment and Development Economics 2015, v. 20, pp. 539-560.

Working Paper Abstracts:

Optimal Contracts for Discouraging Deforestation with Risk Averse Agents pdf file

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century there is an emerging consensus that carbon emissions must be limited. An attractive approach to promoting carbon reductions, which offers a variety of co-benefits, is to encourage reductions in deforestation. Despite this potential, any strategy geared towards encouraging such reductions must confront a basic problem, stemming from symmetric information: agents that might be induced to reduce their actions which would reduce forests have private information about their opportunity costs. This concern seems particularly likely to apply in situations where there are significant related risks, as agents seem highly likely to differ in their tolerance for risk. In this paper, I investigate a contracting scheme designed to mitigate the asymmetric information problem where agents are heterogeneous in their tolerance for risk.

Why do Firms Hold Oil Stockpiles? pdf file

Persistent and significant privately-held stockpiles of crude oil have long been an important empirical regularity in the United States. Such stockpiles would not rationally be held in a traditional Hotelling-style model. How then can the existence of these inventories be explained? In the presence of sufficiently stochastic prices, oil extracting firms have an incentive to hold inventories to smooth production over time. An alternative explanation is related to a speculative motive - firms hold stockpiles intending to cash in on periods of particularly high prices. I argue that empirical evidence supports the former but not the latter explanation.

On the Interaction of Eco-Labeling and Trade  pdf file

While environmental certification can provide useful information to consumers, there is concern that it indirectly erects trade barriers.  I construct a two-country model where some firms use an environmentally-unfriendly (brown) production technology in each country, while other firms use environmentally-friendly (green) techniques.  There are two green techniques, one in each country.  Obtaining the eco-label entails certification costs; green firms in the exporting country must bear an additional cost to obtain the eco-label.  I discuss the impact of eco-labeling on the quantities of green goods produced in each country and resultant welfare impacts, and the impact of changes in labeling costs.

Analyzing the Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail pdf file

In this paper, I combine data on incidents associated with rail transportation of crude oil and detailed data on rail shipments to appraise the relation between increased use of rail to transport crude oil and the risk of safety incidents associated with those shipments. I find a positive link between the accumulation of minor incidents and the frequency of serious incidents, and a positive relation between increased rail shipments of crude oil and the occurrence of minor incidents. I also find that increased shipments are associated with a rightward shift in the distribution of economic damages associated with these shipments; the implied marginal impact of an additional 1,000 rail cars carrying oil between two states in a given month is $1,925. In addition, I find larger average effects associated with states that represent the greatest source of tight oil production.

Jumps in the Convenience Yield of Crude Oil? pdf file

We study the time path of convenience yields associated with crude oil, allowing for the potential presence of jumps and time-varying volatility -- each of which can yield abnormally fat tails -- for four futures prices time horizons (3,- 4-, 6- and 12-month ahead). We find that both jumps and time-varying volatility exert a statistically important effect on convenience yields, for each of the four time horizons. We also calculate the implied probability that at least one jump would occur in any month, which reveals a period of relative calm at the start of the fracking boom, when large stockpiles built up at the trading hub for West Texas Intermediate, and a period of considerable churn, after the ban on exporting crude oil was lifted. Both elements underscore a linkage between inventory holdings and convenience yields.

Climate Agreements with Asymmetric Countries: Theory and Experimental Results pdf file

I model International climate agreements among asymmetric countries, each of whom must select a profile of CO2 emissions over time. Predictions from this model imply larger reductions by “large” countries, but larger proportional reductions by “small” countries. I then analyze experimental data that sheds light on this issue. In contrast to the theoretical predictions, I find that smaller countries do not reduce emissions proportionately to their Nash level, and so the burden falls mostly on larger countries. Moreover, combined emissions are indistinguishable from the one-shot Nash emissions. This pessimistic outcome extends the commonly-found result in the literature that negotiations in similar repeated games (but with symmetric players) generally do not offer much hope for meaningful agreements, unless the effects are modest. 


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