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Mitigating Contractual Hazards: Unilateral Options and Contract Length


  • Keith J. Crocker
  • Scott E. Masten


In this article we consider the ways in which the desire for efficient, low-cost adaptation to change influences the tradeoff between the design and duration of long-term contractual relationships. We examine the distortions in contract terms occasioned by nonprice competition for natural gas in the presence of wellhead price regulation. Deviations from optimal contract incentives significantly raise the cost of being bound to long-term agreements and shorten the duration of contracts. The approach we adopt suggests a method for empirically assessing the efficiency of alternative contracting practices and legal standards.

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  • Keith J. Crocker & Scott E. Masten, 1988. "Mitigating Contractual Hazards: Unilateral Options and Contract Length," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(3), pages 327-343, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:19:y:1988:i:autumn:p:327-343

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
    2. Jeffrey Sachs & Harry Huizinga, 1987. "U.S. Commercial Banks and the Developing-Country Debt Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(2), pages 555-606.
    3. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
    4. Fama, Eugene F, et al, 1969. "The Adjustment of Stock Prices to New Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-21, February.
    5. Warner, Jerold B, 1977. "Bankruptcy Costs: Some Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 337-347, May.
    6. Schwert, G William, 1981. "Using Financial Data to Measure Effects of Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 121-158, April.
    7. Bruce Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1987. "Money, Imperfect Information and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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