Volume 71, Number 4

October 1996

Deregulatory Takings and Breach of the Regulatory Contract: Some Precautions

Oliver E. Williamson

Gregory Sidak and Daniel Spulber raise a series of important and controversial issues in their article, Deregulatory Takings and Breach of the Regulatory Contract. As the title of their article suggests, they interpret recent and prospective efforts to deregulate telecommunications and electric power networks as “takings” and recommend that regulated firms should be compensated for “stranded costs.” They further argue that the “efficient component- pricing rule” (ECPR) is the appropriate rule for pricing access to the network by entrants. Throughout, they adopt a contractual approach to regulation in which (implicitly) the managers of both regulated firms and regulatory agendas are assumed to behave in a stewardship fashion.

There is much in this approach with which I agree, but I also have a series of reservations.