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Journal Articles Canadian Journal of Economics Year : 2020

The Hotelling Rule in Non-Renewable Resource Economics: A Reassessment


Harold Hotelling's 1931 contribution is known for providing a basic principle—the Hotelling rule—to the economics of non‐renewable resources. Nearly 90 years later, empirical tests conclude the rule lacks empirical validity, requiring strong amendments to describe the long‐term, aggregate behaviour of its target object. On the basis of Hotelling's unpublished archival material, this paper revisits the place given to the Hotelling rule in non‐renewable resource economics. Our reconstruction shows that Hotelling's 1931 paper has been misinterpreted: from the outset, the Hotelling rule was not valid for mineral resources. In contrast, the consideration of two inherent geological constraints, alongside exhaustibility, offered the opportunity for an alternative basic framework, capable to generate bell‐shaped and U‐shaped equilibrium trajectories for supplies and prices, respectively. Inspired by this unknown aspect of Hotelling's work brought to light by our archival investigation, we sketch this alternative basic model, enabling non‐renewable resource economics to circumvent the empirical shortfalls of the Hotelling rule.
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hal-03216483 , version 1 (04-05-2021)



Roberto P. Ferreira da Cunha, Antoine Missemer. The Hotelling Rule in Non-Renewable Resource Economics: A Reassessment. Canadian Journal of Economics, 2020, 53 (2), pp.800-820. ⟨10.1111/caje.12444⟩. ⟨hal-03216483⟩
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