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Contracting on Time

  • Sergei Guriev
  • Dmitriy Kvasov

The paper shows how time considerations, especially those concerning contract duration, affect incomplete contract theory. Time is not only a dimension along which the relationship unfolds, but also a continuous verifiable variable that can be included in contracts. We consider a bilateral trade setting where contracting, investment, trade, and renegotiation take place in continuous time. We show that efficient investment can be induced either through a sequence of constantly renegotiated fixed-term contracts; or through a renegotiation-proof "evergreen" contract—a perpetual contract that allows unilateral termination with advance notice. We provide a detailed analysis of properties of optimal contracts.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1369-1385

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:5:p:1369-1385
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805775014452
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  1. Edlin, Aaron S & Reichelstein, Stefan, 1996. "Holdups, Standard Breach Remedies, and Optimal Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 478-501, June.
  2. Ferdinando Colombo & Guido Merzoni, 2008. "For how long to tie your hands? Stable relationships in an unstable environment," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 93-120, November.
  3. Harris, Milton & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1987. "On the Duration of Agreements," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(2), pages 389-406, June.
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  5. Mathias Dewatripont & Philippe Aghion & Patrick Rey, 1994. "Renegotiation design with unverifiable information," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9591, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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  7. Lockwood, B. & Thomas, J.P., 1999. "Gradualism and Irreversibility," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 550, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. Yeon-Koo Che & Jozsef Sakovics, 2001. "A Dynamic Theory of Holdup," ESE Discussion Papers 74, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  9. Georg Noldeke & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1995. "Option Contracts and Renegotiation: A Solution to the Hold-Up Problem," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(2), pages 163-179, Summer.
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  11. Goldberg, Victor P & Erickson, John R, 1987. "Quantity and Price Adjustment in Long-term Contracts: A Case Study of Petroleum Coke," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 369-98, October.
  12. Y. Biondi, 2011. "Cost of capital, discounting and relational contracting: endogenous optimal return and duration for joint investment projects," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(30), pages 4847-4864.
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  16. Joskow, Paul L, 1987. "Contract Duration and Relationship-Specific Investments: Empirical Evidence from Coal Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 168-85, March.
  17. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1991. "Renegotiation in Finitely Repeated Games," Working Papers 91-34, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  24. Pirrong, Stephen Craig, 1993. "Contracting Practices in Bulk Shipping Markets: A Transactions Cost Explanation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 937-76, October.
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  30. Rey, Patrick & Salanie, Bernard, 1990. "Long-term, Short-term and Renegotiation: On the Value of Commitment in Contracting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 597-619, May.
  31. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1993. "Investments, Holdup, and the Form of Market Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 811-37, September.
  32. Masten, Scott E & Crocker, Keith J, 1985. "Efficient Adaptation in Long-term Contracts: Take-or-Pay Provisions for Natural Gas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1083-93, December.
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