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Economic and Legal Aspects of Costly Recontracting

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  • Schwartz, Alan
  • Watson, Joel

Abstract

This paper explores how the opportunity to recontract affects investment and trade in contractual relationships when it is assumed that renegotiation is costly. In this world, recontracting retains much of the benefit that has been ascribed to it, including the realization of any surplus that is available ex post. Costly recontracting also mitigates the well-known drawback, that parties who expect to renegotiate sometimes cannot credibly commit to invest efficiently. This is because the attractiveness of renegotiation decreases in recontracting costs. We show that the optimal contracting environment often involves moderate recontracting costs, which balance the beneficial and detrimental effects of renegotiation. Our result stands in contrast to those derived in common models that assume unrealistically either that recontracting costs are zero or that they are infinite. We discuss implications for the design of legal institutions, governance systems, and contractual form.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt4jr3g3h7.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt4jr3g3h7

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Keywords: contractual relationships; renegotiation;

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References

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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," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 257-82, March.
  3. Grout, Paul A, 1984. "Investment and Wages in the Absence of Binding Contracts: A Nash Bargining Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 449-60, March.
  4. Hermalin, Benjamin E. & Katz, Michael L., 1990. "Moral Hazard and Verifiability: The Effects of Renegotiation in Agency," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1678w3w9, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Huberman, Gur & Kahn, Charles M, 1988. "Limited Contract Enforcement and Strategic Renegotiation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 471-84, June.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Scholarly Articles 12375014, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Jolls, Christine, 1997. "Contracts as Bilateral Commitments: A New Perspective on Contract Modification," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 203-37, January.
  8. Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Hardman Moore, John & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," CEPR Discussion Papers 60, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1995. "Option contracts and renegotiation: A solution to the Hold-Up Problem," Munich Reprints in Economics 19329, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Joel S. Demski & David E.M. Sappington, 1991. "Resolving Double Moral Hazard Problems with Buyout Agreements," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(2), pages 232-240, Summer.
  12. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
  13. Chung, Tai-Yeong, 1991. "Incomplete Contracts, Specific Investments, and Risk Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 1031-42, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Gilboa, I. & Schmeidler, D., 2001. "Inductive Inference: An Axiomatic Approach," Papers 2001-19, Tel Aviv.
  2. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Andrew Postlewaite, 2003. "Courts of Law and Unforeseen Contingencies," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 447, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Ivo Welch & Arturo Bris, 2001. "The Optimal Concentration of Creditors," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm248, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Apr 2004.
  4. Grosskopf Ofer & Medina Barak, 2007. "Rationalizing Drennan: On Irrevocable Offers, Bid Shopping and Binding Range," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 321-361, August.
  5. Ivo Welch, 2002. "Columbus' Egg: The Real Determinant of Capital Structure," NBER Working Papers 8782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Watson, Joel & Brennan, Jim, 2002. "The Renegotiation-Proofness Principle and Costly Renegotiation," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt4242n025, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.

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