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Sunk Investments Lead to Unpredictable Prices

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  • George J. Mailath
  • Andrew Postlewaite
  • Larry Samuelson

Abstract

We study transactions that require investments before trading in a competitive market, when forward contracts fixing the transaction price are absent. We show that, despite the market being perfectly competitive and subject to arbitrarily little uncertainty, the inability to jointly determine investment levels and prices may make it impossible for buyers and sellers to predict the prices at which they will trade, leading to inefficient levels of investment and trade.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0002828042002660
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 94 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 896-918

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:4:p:896-918

Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828042002660
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  2. Shiller, Robert J & Weiss, Allan N, 1999. "Home Equity Insurance," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 21-47, July.
  3. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 2000. "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments in Large Economies," CARESS Working Papres eff-inv-large, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  4. Franklin Allen & Douglas Gale, 2003. "Financial Fragility, Liquidity and Asset Prices," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 01-37, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Manuelli, Rodolfo & Peck, James, 1992. "Sunspot-like effects of random endowments," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 193-206, April.
  6. Paul Milgrom & Ilya Segal, 2002. "Envelope Theorems for Arbitrary Choice Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 583-601, March.
  7. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, . "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments," Penn CARESS Working Papers 08d6793d32cab8f6e1f46dac0, Penn Economics Department.
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