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Default Penalty as a Selection Mechanism among Multiple Equilibria

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Abstract

Closed exchange and production-and-exchange economies may have multiple equilibria, a fact that is usually ignored in macroeconomic models. Our basic argument is that default and bankruptcy laws are required to prevent strategic default, and these laws can also serve to provide the conditions for uniqueness. In this paper, we report experimental evidence on the effectiveness of this approach to resolving multiplicity: a society can assign default penalties on fiat money so that the economy selects one of the equilibria. Our data show that the choice of default penalty takes the economy close to the chosen equilibrium. The theory and evidence together reinforce the idea that accounting, bankruptcy and possibly other aspects of social mechanisms play an important role in resolving the otherwise mathematically intractable challenges associated with multiplicity of equilibria in closed economies.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d17a/d1730-r.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1730R.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision: Dec 2012
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1730r

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Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

Related research

Keywords: Bankruptcy penalty; Financial institutions; Fiat money; Multiple equilibria; Experimental gaming;

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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  2. Bergstrom Theodore C & Shimomura Ken-Ichi & Yamato Takehiko, 2009. "Simple Economies with Multiple Equilibria," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-31, December.
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