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Few bad apples or plenty of lemons: which makes it harder to market plums?

We analyse a competitive commodity market with a large number of buyers and sellers where - a. Individual qualities, either high or low, are not observable by buyers; b. Sellers strategically announce prices and buyers decide whether to buy having observed sellers’ actions. We find that the set of robust equilibria includes only fully separating equilibria. In any robust equilibrium the low quality is always traded. The high quality is traded if demand is sufficiently strong, so that low quality sellers are unable to satisfy all buyers, and is never traded otherwise. Hence, few rotten apples is better than a plentiful of lemons for plums’ sellers.

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Paper provided by Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia in its series Working Paper CRENoS with number 200413.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cns:cnscwp:200413
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  1. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Maskin, Eric, 1987. "Monopoly with asymmetric information about quality : Behavior and regulation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 483-489.
  2. Grossman, Sanford J & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Information and Competitive Price Systems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 246-53, May.
  3. Grossman, Sanford J. & Perry, Motty, 1986. "Perfect sequential equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 97-119, June.
  4. Cho, In-Koo & Sobel, Joel, 1990. "Strategic stability and uniqueness in signaling games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 381-413, April.
  5. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  6. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  7. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
  8. Sanford J Grossman & Joseph E Stiglitz, 1997. "On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1908, David K. Levine.
  9. Maarten C. W. Janssen & Santanu Roy, 2002. "Dynamic Trading in a Durable Good Market with Asymmetric Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 257-282, February.
  10. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  11. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
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