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Optimality and Natural Selection in Markets

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  • Blume, Lawrence E.
  • Easley, David

Abstract

Evolutionary arguments are often used to justify the fundamental behavioral postulates of competive equilibrium. Economists such as Milton Friedman have argued that natural selection favors profit maximizing firms over firms engaging in other behaviors. Consequently, producer efficiency, and therefore Pareto efficiency, are justified on evolutionary grounds. We examine these claims in an evolutionary general equilibrium model. If the economic environment were held constant, profitable firms would grow and unprofitable firms would shrink. In the general equilibrium model, prices change as factor demands and output supply evolves. Without capital markets, when firms can grow only through retained earnings, our model verifies Friedman's claim that natural selection favors profit maximization. But we show through examples that this does not imply that equilibrium allocations converge over time to efficient allocations. Consequently, Koopmans critique of Friedman is correct. When capital markets are added, and firms grow by attracting investment, Friedman's claim may fail. In either model the long-run outcomes of evolutionary market models are not well described by conventional General Equilibrium analysis with profit maximizing firms.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 107 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
Pages: 95-135

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:107:y:2002:i:1:p:95-135

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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  1. Blume, Lawrence E. & Easley, David, 1982. "Learning to be rational," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 340-351, April.
  2. Blume, Lawrence & Easley, David, 1992. "Evolution and market behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 9-40, October.
  3. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
  4. Alvaro Sandroni, 2000. "Do Markets Favor Agents Able to Make Accurate Predicitions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1303-1342, November.
  5. Sidney G. Winter, 1964. "Economic "Natural Selection" and the Theory of the Firm," LEM Chapters Series, in: Yale Economic Essays, pages 225-272 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  6. Winter, Sidney G, 1971. "Satisficing, Selection, and the Innovating Remnant," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 237-61, May.
  7. Dutta, Prajit K & Radner, Roy, 1999. "Profit Maximization and the Market Selection Hypothesis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 769-98, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. David Johnstone, 2007. "Economic Darwinism: Who has the Best Probabilities?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 62(1), pages 47-96, February.
  2. J. Doyne Farmer, 1998. "Market Force, Ecology, and Evolution," Research in Economics 98-12-117e, Santa Fe Institute.
  3. Beker, Pablo F., 2004. "Are inefficient entrepreneurs driven out of the market?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 329-344, February.
  4. Dmitriy Cherkashin & J. Doyne Farmer & Seth Lloyd, 2009. "The Reality Game," Papers 0902.0100, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2009.
  5. Ulrich Horst & Jan Wenzelburger, 2008. "On non-ergodic asset prices," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 207-234, February.
  6. Beker, Pablo F, 2007. "Retained Earnings Dynamic, Internal Promotions and Walrasian Equilibrium," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 813, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2009. "Imitators and optimizers in Cournot oligopoly," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1981-1990, December.
  8. Leoni, Patrick L., 2013. "Survival in Cournot games," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(5), pages 429-434.
  9. Patrick Leoni, 2012. "Rational expectations and monopolistic trades," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 107(2), pages 129-140, October.
  10. Luo, Guo Ying, 2009. "Natural Selection, Irrationality and Monopolistic Competition," MPRA Paper 15357, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "What have we learned from Evolutionary Game Theory so far?," Working Paper Series 487, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 26 Oct 1998.

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