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History: Sunk Cost, or Widespread Externality?

  • P.J. HAMMOND

In an intertemporal Arrow-Debreu economy with a continuum of agents, suppose that the auctioneer sets prices while the government institutes optimal lump-sum transfers period by period. An earlier paper showed how subgame imperfections arise because agents understand how their current decisions such as those determining investment will influence future lump-sum transfers. This observation undermines the second efficiency theorem of welfare economics and makes «history» a widespread externality. A two-period model is used to investigate the constrained efficiency properties of different kinds of equilibrium. Possibilities for remedial policy are also discussed.

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Article provided by Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in its journal Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali.

Volume (Year): 115 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 161-185

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Handle: RePEc:vep:journl:y:2007:v:115:i:2:p:161-185
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