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Trading Favors: Optimal Exchange and Forgiveness


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  • Christine Hauser
  • Hugo Hopenhayn
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    How is cooperation without immediate reciprocity sustained in a long term relationship? We study the case of two players in continuous time who have privately observable opportunities to provide favors, and where the arrival of these opportunities is a Poisson process. Favors provided by a player give her an entitlement to future favors from her partner. As opposed to a "chips mechanism" where the rate of exchange of favors is one, we allow for two features: first, for the rate of exchange to depend on current entitlements, and second, for the possibility of depreciation or appreciation of entitlements. We show that these two features allow for considerably higher payoffs. We characterize and solve for the Pareto frontier of Public Perfect Equilibria (PPE) and show that it is self-generating. This guarantees that the equilibrium is renegotiation proof. We also find that optimal PPE have two key characteristics: 1) the relative price of favors decreases with a player's entitlement and 2) the disadvantaged player's utility increases over time during periods of no trade, so in the optimal equilibria there is forgiveness.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 88.

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    Length: 30 pages
    Date of creation: 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:88

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    Keywords: repeated games; jump process; continuous time;

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    Cited by:
    1. Josef Schroth, 2013. "Fiscal policy coordination in monetary unions," 2013 Meeting Papers 74, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Nikandrova, Arina & Steinbuks, Jevgenijs, 2014. "Contracting for the second best in dysfunctional electricity markets," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6955, The World Bank.


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