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Optimality and Natural Selection in Markets

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  • Lawrence E. Blume

    (Cornell University)

  • David Easley

    (Cornell University)

Abstract

Evolutionary arguments are often used to justify the fundamental behavioral postulates of competive equilibrium. Economists such as Milton Friedman have argued that natural selection favors profit maximizing firms over firms engaging in other behaviors. Consequently, producer efficiency, and therefore Pareto efficiency, are justified on evolutionary grounds. We examine these claims in an evolutionary general equilibrium model. If the economic environment were held constant, profitable firms would grow and unprofitable firms would shrink. In the general equilibrium model, prices change as factor demands and output supply evolves. Without capital markets, when firms can grow only through retained earnings, our model verifies Friedman's claim that natural selection favors profit maximization. But we show through examples that this does not imply that equilibrium allocations converge over time to efficient allocations. Consequently, Koopmans critique of Friedman is correct. When capital markets are added, and firms grow by attracting investment, Friedman's claim may fail. In either model the long-run outcomes of evolutionary market models are not well described by conventional General Equilibrium analysis with profit maximizing firms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series GE, Growth, Math methods with number 9712003.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 25 Dec 1997
Date of revision: 09 Jul 1998
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpge:9712003

Note: Type of Document - Acrobat; prepared with pdftex; pages: 33; figures: in a separate acrobat file.
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: evolution; natural selection; equilibrium; incomplete markets;

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References

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  1. Alvaro Sandroni, 2000. "Do Markets Favor Agents Able to Make Accurate Predicitions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1303-1342, November.
  2. Sidney G. Winter, 1964. "Economic "Natural Selection" and the Theory of the Firm," LEM Chapters Series, in: Yale Economic Essays, pages 225-272 Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  3. Dutta, Prajit K & Radner, Roy, 1999. "Profit Maximization and the Market Selection Hypothesis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 769-98, October.
  4. Blume, Lawrence & Easley, David, 1992. "Evolution and market behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 9-40, October.
  5. Blume, Lawrence E. & Easley, David, 1982. "Learning to be rational," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 340-351, April.
  6. Winter, Sidney G, 1971. "Satisficing, Selection, and the Innovating Remnant," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 237-61, May.
  7. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pablo F. Beker, 2004. "Retained Earnings Dynamic, Internal Promotions And Walrasian Equilibrium," Working Papers. Serie AD 2004-14, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  2. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  3. Beker, Pablo F., 2004. "Are inefficient entrepreneurs driven out of the market?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 329-344, February.
  4. Leoni, Patrick L., 2013. "Survival in Cournot games," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(5), pages 429-434.
  5. Patrick Leoni, 2012. "Rational expectations and monopolistic trades," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 107(2), pages 129-140, October.
  6. David Johnstone, 2007. "Economic Darwinism: Who has the Best Probabilities?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 62(1), pages 47-96, February.
  7. Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "What have we learned from Evolutionary Game Theory so far?," Working Paper Series 487, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 26 Oct 1998.
  8. Cherkashin, Dmitriy & Farmer, J. Doyne & Lloyd, Seth, 2009. "The reality game," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1091-1105, May.
    • Dmitriy Cherkashin & J. Doyne Farmer & Seth Lloyd, 2009. "The Reality Game," Papers 0902.0100, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2009.
  9. Ulrich Horst & Jan Wenzelburger, 2008. "On non-ergodic asset prices," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 207-234, February.
  10. J. Doyne Farmer, 1998. "Market Force, Ecology, and Evolution," Research in Economics 98-12-117e, Santa Fe Institute.
  11. Luo, Guo Ying, 2009. "Natural Selection, Irrationality and Monopolistic Competition," MPRA Paper 15357, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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