On the Robustness of Laissez-Faire
AbstractThis paper considers a model economy in which agents are privately informed about their type: their endowments of various goods and their preferences over these goods. While preference orderings over observable choices are allowed to be correlated with an agent's private type, we assume that the planner/government is both uncertain about the nature of this joint distribution and unable to choose among multiple equilibria of any given social mechanism. We model the planner/government as having a maxmin objective in the face of this uncertainty. Our main theorem is as follows: Once we allow for this kind of uncertainty and assume no wealth effects in preferences, the uniquely optimal social contract is laissez-faire, in which agents trade in unfettered markets with no government intervention of any kind.
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