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Promises, Promises…

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  • Carrillo, Juan D
  • Dewatripont, Mathias

Abstract

This Paper considers a time-inconsistent individual who has the ability to make promises that lead to a financial or reputation loss if broken. We first identify conditions under which promises made are kept, and conditions under which they are (partially) broken. Second, we endogenize the financial loss from breaking promises by considering interpersonal monitoring and explicit contracting. We describe optimal contracting under the assumptions that monitoring requires meeting and that meeting also opens the door to renegotiation of earlier promises. Third, we show how the loss from breaking promises can be reinterpreted in terms of reputation loss in the presence of incomplete information. Finally, we argue that the above results remain valid when we replace time-inconsistent preferences with limits to contracting as the source of the commitment problem of the individual. This significantly enhances the generality of these results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2680.

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Date of creation: Jan 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2680

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Related research

Keywords: Hyperbolic Discounting; Limits To Contracts; Promises; Time-Inconsistency;

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References

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  1. Dewatripont, M & Maskin, E, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 541-55, October.
  2. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  3. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
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  8. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  9. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D., 2000. "The value of information when preferences are dynamically inconsistent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1104-1115, May.
  11. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Is it 'Economics and Psychology'?: The Case of Hyperbolic Discounting," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 625018000000000219, www.najecon.org.
  12. Carrillo, Juan D & Mariotti, Thomas, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 529-44, July.
  13. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  14. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
  15. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Incentives For Procrastinators," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 769-816, August.
  16. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Loewenstein, George & Prelec, Drazen, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-97, May.
  18. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2000. "Self-Confidence: Intrapersonal Strategies," CEPR Discussion Papers 2580, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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