Prakash Mishra

Prakash Mishra
  • Applied Economics Doctoral Candidate

Contact Information

Research Interests: Environmental economics, land use, spatial methods, food systems

Overview

Education

BS in Economics and BSE in Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2019

Work Experience

Research Intern, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, 2018-2019

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Research

The Allocative Efficiency of Global Deforestation

Agriculture, plantation forestry, and mining compete with forests for land. This paper presents land parcels as an abatement technology whose abatement cost is given by foregone economic activity. Thus, I derive a forest abatement cost curve across the globe which captures rich substitution patterns across land across a host of characteristics: land productivities, transportation costs, and persistence in land use. This abatement cost curve is a key input in a model of the global pollution taxes and standards. I demonstrate that status quo forest loss is neither cost-effective nor efficient: lost carbon in removed forests is more expensive than expected profits off of the land use replacing it. Under status quo policies, a spatial general equilibrium model predicts half of the carbon stock in global forest is lost to deforestation in equilibrium. Reallocating land under (privately) cost-effective forest loss would have prevented 31% of carbon biomass lost from 2010 onwards: this result is independent of any social cost of carbon estimate. Socially efficient deforestation under a Pigouvian tax removes 45% less forest than the status quo. However, efficient reallocation implies a major shift of agriculture out of the tropics, inducing a structural change that dramatically alters the geography of manufacturing and services as well. Marginal abatement costs of forest are lowest in areas with large amounts of inefficient agriculture. I show that, despite this inefficiency, countries in the tropics may individually rationally not choose to tax their own carbon stocks, highlighting the need for international transfers to support vital forest cover.

 

Trade openness and deforestation in agricultural markets

I study the staggered implementation of US standards on Mexican avocado production, aimed to curb local pests, on local deforestation. I find that improved market access for Mexican orchards dominates increased costs of doing business in effect size. The access effect leads to sustained deforestation up to 10 years out from when individual municipalities began exporting avocados under standards. Further, by using an index-based measure of deforestation (the normalized difference vegetation index, or NDVI) rather than a classifier, I convert this loss of tree canopy greenness into lost carbon capture. Using a $51 social cost of carbon, the policy created an environmental externality of at least $31 million across the affected region. Traditional classifier measures fail to capture the gradual deforestation carried out by small orchard owners, understating the true effect relative to my NDVI-based method by $9 million.

 

Agricultural carbon taxes and industrial farming

Carbon taxes on agriculture are a theoretical first-best. However, rich evidence suggests agriculture enjoys benefits from scale, and that large-scale industrial farms are also the heaviest polluters. This research interrogates the tradeoff between farm scale and environmental damages. There are generically two margins of adaptation to a carbon tax within the agricultural industry: first, farms can exit if cost burdens are too high; second, farms can scale to take advantage of scale efficiencies. Both channels have implications when damages and scale are correlated. If industrial farming is eliminated by carbon taxation, this suggests that there will be greater land costs to agriculture as farms turn to lower-yield agro-ecological farming technologies. If, on the other hand, industrial farming enjoys a major cost advantage, carbon taxation may lead to greater exit among farms which are technically cleaner. I estimate damage functions for a host of polluting agricultural inputs for farms in the European Union across various levels of farm scale. I then use  shocks derived from the EU ETS carbon price scheme to identify firm exit and scaling as a consequence of input cost shocks. These estimates are used to calibrate a model of an agricultural carbon tax’s impact on the structure of the food supply in the EU.

Teaching

BEPP250 – MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS

This course will introduce you to “managerial economics” which is the application of microeconomic theory to managerial decision-making. Microeconomic theory is a remarkably useful body of ideas for understanding and analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms in a variety of economic settings. The goal of the course is for you to understand this body of theory well enough so that you can effectively analyze managerial (and other) problems in an economic framework. While this is a “tools” course, we will cover many real-world applications, particularly business applications, so that you can witness the usefulness of these tools and acquire the skills to use them yourself. We will depart from the usual microeconomic theory course by giving more emphasis to prescription: What should a manager do in order to achieve some objective? That course deliverable is to compare with description: Why do firms and consumers act the way they do? The latter will still be quite prominent in this course because only by understanding how other firms and customers behave can a manager determine what is beswt for him or her to do. Strategic interaction is explored both in product markets and auctions. Finally, the challenges created by asymmetric information – both in the market and within the firm – are investigated.

 

BEPP/OIDD 2630/9630 – Environmental & Energy Economics and Policy

This course examines environmental and energy issues from an economist’s perspective. Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy, as they experienced a shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives. First, we look at scarcity pricing and market power in electricity and gasoline markets. We then study oil and gas markets, with an emphasis on optimal extraction and pricing and geopolitical risks that investors in hydrocarbon resources face. We then shift gears to the sources of environmental problems, and how policy makers can intervene to solve some of these problems. We talk about the economic rationale for a broad range of possible policies: environmental taxes, subsidies, performance standards and cap-and-trade. In doing so, we discuss fundamental concepts in environmental economics, such as externalities, valuation of the environment and the challenge of designing international agreements. There is special emphasis on the economics and finance of renewable energy, including an introduction to energy storage. Other topics include energy efficiency and transportation policies such as fuel-economy and electric vehicle standards.

Awards and Honors

Winkelman Fellowship, 2021.

Russel Ackoff Doctoral Grants, 2021 and 2022.

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