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Bargaining over a Divisible Good in the Market for Lemons


  • Dino Gerardi
  • Lucas Maestri


A seller dynamically sells a divisible good to a buyer. It is common knowledge that there are gains from trade and that the gains per unit are decreasing. Payoffs are interdependent as in Akerlof's market for lemons. The seller is informed about the good's quality. The buyer makes an offer in every period and learns about the good's quality only through the seller's behavior. We characterize the stationary equilibrium when the time between offers is small. The owner of a high-quality good sells it in dribs and drabs, whereas the owner of a low-quality good constantly randomizes between selling small pieces and accepting an offer for all the remaining units. We use this characterization to analyze the limiting equilibrium outcome as the good becomes more divisible. We prove that there is slow trading: a valuable good is smoothly sold over time. In contrast, the good is never partially sold when gains per unit are increasing.

Suggested Citation

  • Dino Gerardi & Lucas Maestri, 2013. "Bargaining over a Divisible Good in the Market for Lemons," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 312, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:312

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fuchs, William & Öry, Aniko & Skrzypacz, Andrzej, 2016. "Transparency and distressed sales under asymmetric information," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(3), September.
    2. Vincent, Daniel R., 1989. "Bargaining with common values," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 47-62, June.
    3. Camargo, Braz & Lester, Benjamin, 2014. "Trading dynamics in decentralized markets with adverse selection," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 534-568.
    4. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, July.
    5. Fuchs, William & Skrzypacz, Andrzej, 2013. "Costs and Benefits of Dynamic Trading in a Lemons Market," Research Papers 2133, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    6. Gerardi, Dino & Hörner, Johannes & Maestri, Lucas, 2014. "The role of commitment in bilateral trade," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 578-603.
    7. Robert Evans, 1989. "Sequential Bargaining with Correlated Values," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 499-510.
    8. Samuelson, William F, 1984. "Bargaining under Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 995-1005, July.
    9. Anat R. Admati & Motty Perry, 1991. "Joint Projects without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 259-276.
    10. Gul, Faruk & Sonnenschein, Hugo, 1988. "On Delay in Bargaining with One-Sided Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(3), pages 601-611, May.
    11. Moreno, Diego & Wooders, John, 2016. "Dynamic markets for lemons: performance, liquidity, and policy intervention," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(2), May.
    12. Ausubel, Lawrence M & Deneckere, Raymond J, 1992. "Bargaining and the Right to Remain Silent," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(3), pages 597-625, May.
    13. Fuchs, William & Skrzypacz, Andrzej, 2013. "Bridging the gap: Bargaining with interdependent values," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 1226-1236.
    14. Brendan Daley & Brett Green, 2012. "Waiting for News in the Market for Lemons," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(4), pages 1433-1504, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean Tirole, 2016. "From Bottom of the Barrel to Cream of the Crop: Sequential Screening With Positive Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1291-1343, July.

    More about this item


    bargaining; divisible objects; interdependent valuations; market for lemons.;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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