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What the Seller Won’t Tell You: Persuasion and Disclosure in Markets

  • Paul Milgrom

Imagine that you are considering an investment in a new public offering of a firm's shares. The firm's officers make a presentation that includes an audited financial statement, an earnings forecast reviewed by its prestigious investment bankers, and an impressive demonstration of its new technology. Or suppose that you are buying a new furnace to replace an old one that is not working well. The salesman displays a chart showing that the projected total life-cycle cost of one particular model, including capital costs and fuel usage over the projected lifetime of the furnace, is lower than that of some competing models you have considered. This paper reviews the theoretical arguments about how sellers disclose information in an attempt to encourage buyers, and the potential role for regulation in encouraging efficient disclosure of information. How well does a system of private reporting work? When should we expect all the relevant information to be reported? If testing and reporting by the seller are costly, will too little testing and reporting be done? Or too much? When some information is withheld, what sort of information is withheld? How do rational buyers respond to such withholding? How are prices and welfare affected? What role is there for laws and regulations to improve the functioning of markets? We address these questions by studying the theory of persuasion games -- games in which one or more sellers provide verifiable information to buyers to influence the actions they take.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 843644000000000045.

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Date of creation: 22 Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:843644000000000045
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  1. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
  2. Verrecchia, Robert E., 1983. "Discretionary disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 179-194, April.
  3. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  4. Shin, Hyun Song, 2002. "Disclosures and Asset Returns," CEPR Discussion Papers 3345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1985. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 749, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Boyan Jovanovic, 1982. "Truthful Disclosure of Information," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 36-44, Spring.
  7. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "What Works in Securities Law?," NBER Working Papers 9882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Grossman, S J & Hart, O D, 1980. " Disclosure Laws and Takeover Bids," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(2), pages 323-34, May.
  9. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  10. Rubinstein, Ariel & Glazer, Jacob, 2006. "A study in the pragmatics of persuasion: a game theoretical approach," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(4), pages 395-410, December.
  11. Joseph Farrell & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 103-118, Summer.
  12. H.S. Shin, 1994. "News Management and the Value of Firms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 58-71, Spring.
  13. Akerlof, George A, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617, November.
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