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Contracting on Time

  • Sergei Guriev


    (New Economic School/CEFIR and CEPR)

  • Dmitriy Kvasov


    (The University of Auckland)

The paper shows how the time considerations, especially those concerning contract duration, affect incomplete contract theory. Time is not only a dimension along which the relationship unfolds but also a continuous verifiable variable that can be included in contracts. We consider a bilateral trade setting where contracting, investment, trade, and renegotiation take place in continuous time. We show that efficient investment can be induced either through a sequence of constantly renegotiated fixed-term contracts; or through a renegotiation-proof ‘evergreen’ contract–a perpetual contract that allows unilateral termination with advance notice. We provide a detailed analysis of properties of optimal contracts.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) in its series Working Papers with number w0059.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review, December 2005
Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0059
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  1. Crawford, Vincent P, 1988. "Long-term Relationships Governed by Short-term Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 485-99, June.
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  3. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1987. "Contracts as a Barrier to Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 388-401, June.
  4. Georg Noldeke & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1995. "Option Contracts and Renegotiation: A Solution to the Hold-Up Problem," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(2), pages 163-179, Summer.
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  7. repec:att:wimass:9714 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Ben Lockwood & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2002. "Gradualism and Irreversibility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 339-356.
  9. Edlin, Aaron S & Reichelstein, Stefan, 1996. "Holdups, Standard Breach Remedies, and Optimal Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 478-501, June.
  10. Oliver D. Hart & Jean Tirole, 1987. "Contract Renegotiation and Coasian Dynamics," Working papers 442, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Pirrong, Stephen Craig, 1993. "Contracting Practices in Bulk Shipping Markets: A Transactions Cost Explanation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 937-76, October.
  12. Sergei Guriev, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts with Cross-Investments," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/67o636bvfi8, Sciences Po.
  13. Ilya Segal & Michael D. Whinston, 2002. "The Mirrlees Approach to Mechanism Design with Renegotiation (with Applications to Hold-up and Risk Sharing)," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 1-45, January.
  14. Pitchford, Rohan & Snyder, Christopher M., 2004. "A solution to the hold-up problem involving gradual investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 88-103, January.
  15. Hardman Moore, John & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," CEPR Discussion Papers 60, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Y. Biondi, 2011. "Cost of capital, discounting and relational contracting: endogenous optimal return and duration for joint investment projects," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(30), pages 4847-4864.
  17. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 257-82, March.
  18. Edlin, Aaron S & Hermalin, Benjamin E, 2000. "Contract Renegotiation and Options in Agency Problems," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 395-423, October.
  19. Rey, Patrick & Salanie, Bernard, 1990. "Long-term, Short-term and Renegotiation: On the Value of Commitment in Contracting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 597-619, May.
  20. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1991. "Renegotiation in Finitely Repeated Games," Working Papers 91-34, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  21. Yeon-Koo Che & József Sákovics, 2004. "A Dynamic Theory of Holdup," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1063-1103, 07.
  22. Llobet, G. & Hopenhayn, H. & Mitchell, M., 2000. "Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents and Buyouts," Papers 0012, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
  23. Ferdinando Colombo & Guido Merzoni, 2008. "For how long to tie your hands? Stable relationships in an unstable environment," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 93-120, November.
  24. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
  25. Joskow, Paul L, 1987. "Contract Duration and Relationship-Specific Investments: Empirical Evidence from Coal Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 168-85, March.
  26. Donald B. Hausch & Yeon-Koo Che, 1999. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 125-147, March.
  27. MacLeod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1994. "Contract bargaining with symmetric information," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9409, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  28. Harris, Milton & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1987. "On the Duration of Agreements," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(2), pages 389-406, June.
  29. Masten, Scott E & Crocker, Keith J, 1985. "Efficient Adaptation in Long-term Contracts: Take-or-Pay Provisions for Natural Gas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1083-93, December.
  30. Goldberg, Victor P & Erickson, John R, 1987. "Quantity and Price Adjustment in Long-term Contracts: A Case Study of Petroleum Coke," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 369-98, October.
  31. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1993. "Investments, Holdup, and the Form of Market Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 811-37, September.
  32. Keith J. Crocker & Scott E. Masten, 1988. "Mitigating Contractual Hazards: Unilateral Options and Contract Length," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(3), pages 327-343, Autumn.
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