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Unforeseen Contingencies

  • Nabil J Al-Najjar
  • Luca Anderlini
  • Leonardo Felli

We develop a model of unforeseen contingencies. These are contingencies that are understood by economic agents - their consequences and probabilities are known - but are such that every description of such events necessarily leaves out relevant features that have a non-negligible impact on the parties' expected utilities. Using a simple co-insurance problem as a backdrop, we introduce a model where states are described in terms of objective features, and the description of an event specifies a finite number of such features. In this setting, unforeseen contingencies are present in the co-insurance problem when the first-best risk-sharing contract varies with the states of nature in a complex way that makes it highly sensitive to the component features of the states. In this environment, although agents can compute expected pay-offs, they are unable to include in any ex-ante agreement a description of the relevant contingencies that captures (even approximately) the relevant complexity of the risky environment.

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Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series with number 431.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stitep:431
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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  1. Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo, 1998. "Describability and agency problems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 35-59, January.
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