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Dynamic Mechanism Design With Hidden Income and Hidden Actions

  • Matthias Doepke

    (UCLA)

  • Robert M. Townsend

    (University of Chicago)

We develop general recursive methods to solve for optimal contracts in dynamic principal-agent environments with hidden states and hidden actions. In our baseline model, the principal observes nothing other than transfers. Nevertheless, optimal incentive-constrained insurance can be attained. We show that the optimal contract can be implemented as a recursive direct mechanism with a vector of utility promises as the state variable. The standard recursive formulation suffers from a curse of dimensionality that arises from the interaction of hidden income and hidden actions; this curse can be overcome by introducing judiciously chosen utility bounds for deviation behaviour off the equilibrium path. Our methods generalize to environments with multiple actions and additional states. The key to implementing these extensions is to introduce multiple layers of off-path utility bounds.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/workingpapers/wp818.pdf
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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series UCLA Economics Working Papers with number 818.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cla:uclawp:818
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/

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  1. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Figuring out the Impact of Hidden Savings on Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 541-554, July.
  2. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
  3. Fudenberg, Drew & Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1990. "Short-term contracts and long-term agency relationships," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-31, June.
  4. Harold L Cole & Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Efficient Allocations with Hidden Income and Hidden Storage," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1909, David K. Levine.
  5. Wang, Cheng, 1995. "Dynamic Insurance with Private Information and Balanced Budgets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 577-95, October.
  6. Roger B. Myerson, 1984. "Multistage Games with Communication," Discussion Papers 590, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Kenneth L. Judd & Sevin Yeltekin & James Conklin, 2003. "Computing Supergame Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1239-1254, 07.
  9. Townsend, Robert M, 1982. "Optimal Multiperiod Contracts and the Gain from Enduring Relationships under Private Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1166-86, December.
  10. Harris Milton & Townsend, Robert M, 1981. "Resource Allocation under Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(1), pages 33-64, January.
  11. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1990. "Toward a Theory of Discounted Repeated Games with Imperfect Monitoring," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1041-63, September.
  12. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
  13. Phelan Christopher, 1995. "Repeated Moral Hazard and One-Sided Commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 488-506, August.
  14. Myerson, Roger B., 1982. "Optimal coordination mechanisms in generalized principal-agent problems," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 67-81, June.
  15. Harold L. Cole & Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1997. "Dynamic games with hidden actions and hidden states," Working Papers 583, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Spear, Stephen E & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617, October.
  17. Allen, Franklin, 1985. "Repeated principal-agent relationships with lending and borrowing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 27-31.
  18. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
  19. Dilip Abreu & David Pearce & Ennio Stacchetti, 2010. "Towards a Theory of Discounted Repeated Games with Imperfect Monitoring," Levine's Working Paper Archive 199, David K. Levine.
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