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Tracking the Invisible Hand: Convergence of Double Auctions to Competitive Equilibrium

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  • Antoni Bosch-Domenech
  • Shyam Sunder

Abstract

Economics is the science of want and scarcity. We show that want and scarcity, operating within a simple exchange institution (double auction), can be sufficient for an economy consisting of multiple inter-related markets to attain competitive equilibrium (CE). We generalize Gode and Sunder‘s (1993a,b) single-market finding to multi-market economies, and explore the role of the scarcity constraint in convergence of economies to CE. When the scarcity constraint is relaxed by allowing arbitrageurs in middle markets to enter speculative trades, prices still converge to CE, but allocative efficiency of the economy declines. Optimization by individual agents, often used to derive competitive equilibria, is unnecessary for an actual economy to approximately attain such equilibria. From the failure of humans to optimize in complex tasks, one need not conclude that the equilibria derived from the competitive model are descriptively irrelevant. We show that even in complex economic systems which are highly inefficient, such equilibria can be attained under a range of surprisingly weak assumptions about agent behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Antoni Bosch-Domenech & Shyam Sunder, 2000. "Tracking the Invisible Hand: Convergence of Double Auctions to Competitive Equilibrium," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 16(3), pages 257-284, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:compec:v:16:y:2000:i:3:p:257-284
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sunder, S., 1992. "Lower Bounds for Efficiency of Surplus Extraction in Double Auctions," GSIA Working Papers 1992-17, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    2. Smith, Vernon L, 1991. "Rational Choice: The Contrast between Economics and Psychology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 877-897, August.
    3. Theodore W. Schultz, 1962. "Reflections on Investment in Man," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-1.
    4. Rothschild, Emma, 1994. "Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 319-322, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Luisa Fuster, 1995. "Altruism, uncertain lifetime and the distribution of wealth," Economics Working Papers 150, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    2. Yeh, Chia-Hsuan, 2008. "The effects of intelligence on price discovery and market efficiency," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 613-625, December.
    3. Luo, Guo Ying, 2003. "Evolution, efficiency and noise traders in a one-sided auction market," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 163-197, April.
    4. José V. Rodríguez Mora, 1995. "Shared knowledge," Economics Working Papers 144, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    5. Duffy, John, 2006. "Agent-Based Models and Human Subject Experiments," Handbook of Computational Economics,in: Leigh Tesfatsion & Kenneth L. Judd (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 19, pages 949-1011 Elsevier.
    6. Miller, Ross M., 2008. "Don't let your robots grow up to be traders: Artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and asset-market bubbles," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 153-166, October.
    7. Chen, Shu-Heng, 2012. "Varieties of agents in agent-based computational economics: A historical and an interdisciplinary perspective," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-25.
    8. Huber, Juergen & Shubik, Martin & Sunder, Shyam, 2007. "Three Minimal Market Institutions: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 27, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    9. Dhananjay K. & Shyam Sunder & Stephen Spear, 2004. "Convergence of Double Auctions to Pareto Optimal Allocations in the Edgeworth Box," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2518, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Apr 2008.
    10. Ciccone, Antonio & Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1996. "Start-up costs and pecuniary externalities as barriers to economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 33-59, April.
    11. Hurkens, Sjaak & Vulkan, Nir, 2001. "Information acquisition and entry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 467-479, April.
    12. Nir Dagan, 1994. "Recontracting and competition," Economics Working Papers 152, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 1996.
    13. Ladley, Daniel, 2013. "Contagion and risk-sharing on the inter-bank market," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 1384-1400.
    14. Jamal, Karim & Sunder, Shyam, 1996. "Bayesian equilibrium in double auctions populated by biased heuristic traders," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 273-291, November.
    15. Gode, Dhananjay (Dan) K. & Sunder, Shyam, 2004. "Double auction dynamics: structural effects of non-binding price controls," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 1707-1731, July.
    16. Leigh TESFATSION, 1995. "How Economists Can Get Alife," Economic Report 37, Iowa State University Department of Economics.
    17. Edoardo Gaffeo & Mauro Gallegati & Umberto Gostoli, 2012. "An agent-based "proof of principle" for Walrasian macroeconomic theory," CEEL Working Papers 1202, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    18. Shyam Sunder & MODELS A, 2002. "Markets as Artifacts: Aggregate Efficiency from Zero-Intelligence Traders," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm284, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Sep 2004.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    competitive equilibrium; convergence; zero-intelligence traders; minimal rationality economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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