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Economic and Legal Aspects of Costly Recontracting

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  • Schwartz, Alan
  • Watson, Joel

Abstract

This paper explores how the opportunity to recontract affects investment and trade in contractual relationships when it is assumed that renegotiation is costly. In this world, recontracting retains much of the benefit that has been ascribed to it, including the realization of any surplus that is available ex post. Costly recontracting also mitigates the well-known drawback, that parties who expect to renegotiate sometimes cannot credibly commit to invest efficiently. This is because the attractiveness of renegotiation decreases in recontracting costs. We show that the optimal contracting environment often involves moderate recontracting costs, which balance the beneficial and detrimental effects of renegotiation. Our result stands in contrast to those derived in common models that assume unrealistically either that recontracting costs are zero or that they are infinite. We discuss implications for the design of legal institutions, governance systems, and contractual form.

Suggested Citation

  • Schwartz, Alan & Watson, Joel, 2000. "Economic and Legal Aspects of Costly Recontracting," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt4jr3g3h7, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt4jr3g3h7
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    7. Grout, Paul A, 1984. "Investment and Wages in the Absence of Binding Contracts: A Nash Bargining Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 449-460, March.
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    9. Tai-Yeong Chung, 1991. "Incomplete Contracts, Specific Investments, and Risk Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(5), pages 1031-1042.
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    Cited by:

    1. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 2003. "Inductive Inference: An Axiomatic Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 1-26, January.
    2. Arturo Bris & Ivo Welch, 2005. "The Optimal Concentration of Creditors," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2193-2212, October.
    3. Andrew Postlewaite, 2007. "Courts of Law and Unforeseen Contingencies," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 662-684, October.
    4. James R. Brennan & Joel Watson, 2013. "The Renegotiation-Proofness Principle and Costly Renegotiation," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-20, July.
    5. Grosskopf Ofer & Medina Barak, 2007. "Rationalizing Drennan: On Irrevocable Offers, Bid Shopping and Binding Range," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 321-361, August.
    6. Ivo Welch, 2002. "Columbus' Egg: The Real Determinant of Capital Structure," NBER Working Papers 8782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    Keywords

    contractual relationships; renegotiation;

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