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Undescribable Events

  • Nabil I. Al-Najjar
  • Luca Anderlini
  • Leonardo Felli

We develop a model of undescribable events. Examples of events that are well understood by economic agents but are prohibitively difficult to describe in advance abound in real-life. This notion has also pervaded a substantial amount of economic literature. We put forth a model of such events using a simple co-insurance problem as backdrop. Undescribable events in our model are understood by economic agents - their consequences and probabilities are known - but are such that every finite description of such events necessarily leaves out relevant features that have a non-negligible impact on the parties’ expected utilities. We also show that two key ingredients of our model - probabilities that are finitely additive but fail countable additivity, and a state space that is small (discrete in our model) in a measure-theoretic sense -are necessary ingredients of any model of undescribable events that delivers our results.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1092.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1092
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  1. Nabil Al-Najjar & Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2002. "Unforeseen contingencies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3578, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Normal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 94-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
  4. Luca Anderlini, Leonardo Felli & Andrew Postlewaite, 2003. "Courts of Law and Unforeseen Contingencies," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-26, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 1777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Mark Machina, 2004. "Almost-objective uncertainty," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-54, 07.
  7. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Dekel, Eddie & Lipman, Barton L. & Rustichini, Aldo, 1998. "Recent developments in modeling unforeseen contingencies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 523-542, May.
  9. Segal, Ilya, 1999. "Complexity and Renegotiation: A Foundation for Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 57-82, January.
  10. Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo, 1994. "Incomplete Written Contracts: Undescribable States of Nature," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1085-1124, November.
  11. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2002. "Rigidity, Discretion, and the Costs of Writing Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 798-817, September.
  12. Al-Najjar, Nabil I. & Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2003. "Probabilistic representation of complexity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 49-87, July.
  13. Partha Dasgupta & Douglas Gale & Oliver Hart & Eric Maskin (ed.), 1992. "Economic Analysis of Markets and Games: Essays in Honor of Frank Hahn," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262541599, June.
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