403 research outputs found

    Learning about common and private values in oligopoly

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    We characterize a duopoly buffeted by demand and cost shocks. Firms learn about shocks from common observation, private observation, and noisy price signals. Firms internalize how outputs affect a rival's signal, and hence output. We distinguish how the nature of information —public versus private—and of what firms learn about—common versus private values—affect equilibrium outcomes. Firm outputs weigh private information about private values by more than common values. Thus, prices contain more information about private-value shocks

    Nearsighted justice

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    Chapter 11 structures complex negotiations between creditors and debtors that are overseen by a bankruptcy court. This paper identifies conditions under which it is optimal for the court to sometimes err in determining whether a firm should be liquidated. Such errors can affect the optimal action choices by both good and bad entrepreneurs. We first characterize the optimal error rate without renegotiation, providing conditions under which it is optimal for the court both to sometimes mistakenly liquidate "good firms," but not "bad firms." When creditors and debtors can renegotiate to circumvent an error-riven court and creditors have all of the bargaining power, we show that for a broad class of action choices, a blind court--one that ignores all information and hence is equally likely to liquidate a good firm as a bad one--is optimal.Bankruptcy

    Cooperation through Imitation

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    This paper characterizes long-run outcomes for broad classes of symmetric games, when players select actions on the basis of average historical performance. Received wisdom is that when agent's interests are partially opposed, behavior is excessively competitive: ``keeping up with the Jones' '' lowers everyones' welfare. Here, we study the long-run consequences of imitative behavior when agents have sufficiently long memories --- and the outcome is dramatically different. Imitation robustly leads to cooperative outcomes (with highest symmetric payoffs) in the long run. This provides a rationale, for example, for collusive cartel-like behavior without collusive intent on the part of the agents.Evolution, Imitation

    The Layoff Rat Race

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    We investigate how discretionary investments in general and specific human capital are affected by the possibility of layoffs. After investments are made, firms may have to lay off workers, and will do so in inverse order of the profit that each worker generates. Greater skill investments, especially in specific human capital contribute more to a firm's bottom line, so that workers who make those investments will be laid off last. We show that, as long as workers' bargaining positions are not too weak, to reduce layoff probabilities, workers invest in specific human capital. Indeed, workers over-invest in skill acquisition from a social perspective whenever their bargaining power is strong enough, even though they only receive a share of any investment. More generally, we characterize how equilibrium skill investments are affected by the distribution of worker abilities within firms, the probability that a firm downsizes, and the distribution of employment opportunities in the economy.Human Capital; Layoffs; Unemployment; Specific Skills; Bargaining

    Is there a paradox of pledgeability?

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    We show that in the limited-commitment framework of Donaldson, Gromb, and Piacentino (2019), firm value always increases in the fraction of cash flows that can be pledged as collateral. That is, pledgeability increases investment efficiency and relaxes a firm's financing constraint. We derive this conclusion using the same contracts considered by the authors and generalize the result to an arbitrary number of states. We also show that the first best can always be implemented by a nonstate-contingent secured debt contract, which differs from the ones they consider

    Where Have All the Civil Engineering Students Gone? A Study of Student Choice of Engineering Department

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    The problem: students in General Engineering at the University of Waterloo are not choosing as often as before to enter Civil Engineering. Increasing numbers of students are choosing Mechanical or Electrical Engineering, creating a large imbalance in the three class sizes. There is tremendous concern about whether this is a long or short run trend, why this imbalance exists, and about what, if anything, should and can be done to correct this imbalance. In this paper, I will construct a logit model of student choice and apply directly to those students who have been in General Engineering at the University of Waterloo. I will attempt to discover the answer to the question- Why are students no longer choosing as frequently to enter Civil Engineering? This paper is unique in that it attempts to build a relatively sophisticated model of undergraduate choice of major and to test it empirically. Very few studies have focused on the choice of major (or department) even briefly. Choice of major is important topic because it helps to determine the future distribution of high level skills among labor; it certainly ought not to be neglected. Those studies which have looked at choice of department, have given the subject cursory glances at best. The studies have not attempted to include factors unique to the student (e.g. aptitude, interests), nor have they looked at non-salary market characteristics such as numbers of jobs. We shall find that these factors are the most important ones in explaining choice of department and should be considered. We shall find that the large fluctuations in proportions of students entering each department are caused primarily by the cyclical fluctuations in the job markets

    A Vindication of Responsible Parties

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    Electoral platform convergence is perceived unfavorably by both the popular press and many academic scholars. This paper provides a formal account of these perceived negative effects. We show that when parties do not know voters’ preferences perfectly, voters prefer some platform divergence to the convergent policy outcome of competition between opportunistic, office-motivated, parties. We characterize when voters prefer responsible parties (which weight policy positively in their utility function) to oppor- tunistic ones. Voters prefer responsible parties when office benefits and concentration of moderate voters are high enough relative to the ideological polarization between parties. In particular, with optimally-chosen office benefits, responsible parties improve welfare.

    Political Polarization and the Electoral Effects of Media Bias

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    Many political commentators diagnose an increasing polarization of the U.S. electorate into two opposing camps. However, in standard spatial voting models, changes in the political preference distribution are irrelevant as long as the position of the median voter does not change. We show that media bias provides a mechanism through which political polarization can affect electoral outcomes.In our model, media firms’ profits depend on their audience rating. Maximizing profits may involve catering to a partisan audience by slanting the news. While voters are rational, understand the nature of the news suppression bias and update appropriately, important information is lost through bias, potentially resulting in inefficient electoral outcomes. We show that polarization increases the profitability of slanting news, thereby raising the likelihood of electoral mistakes. We also show that, if media are biased, then there are some news realizations such that the electorate appears more polarized to an outside observer, even if citizens’ policy preferences do not change.media bias, polarization, information aggregation, democracy

    Long-term information, short-lived derivative securities

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    This paper explores strategic trade in short-lived derivative securities by agents that possess long-term information about an underlying asset. In contrast to trading equity, where an informed agent will ultimately benefit from his trades, trading short-lived securities is profitable only if the price impounds the private information before expiry. A consequence is that a risk neutral informed agent's holdings of the short-lived security affect his trading behavior: Past informed trading leads to greater future informed trading. The shorter horizon in which information must be impounded for a short-lived security to pay off makes an informed agent more reluctant to trade at earlier dates. By characterizing the conditions under which liquidity traders choose to incur extra costs to roll over their short-term positions rather than trade in longer-term derivative securities, we provide a possible explanation for why most markets for longer-term derivative securities have little liquidity and large bid-ask spreads.Private information, liquidity, derivative securities, strategic trade
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