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The Monopolist’s Blues

We consider the problem of trade between a price setting party who has private information about the quality of a good and a price taker who may also have private information. We restrict attention to the case in which, under full information, it is efficient to trade only a subset of all qualities. In particular, we assume that trading a low (high) quality is inefficient when the seller (buyer) sets the price. We show that there is a unique equilibrium outcome passing Cho and Kreps (1987) “Never a Weak Best Response”. The refined outcome is always characterized by no trade, although trade would be mutually beneficial in some state of nature. This occurs - 1. Even if the price taker has more precise information than the price setting party, and 2. Even when the information received by both parties is almost perfect. Both results imply that there are inefficiencies due to price setting that are not present in standard markets with adverse selection. We find that the price setting party can always increase her profits through ex-ante delegation of the price choice to an uninformed third party. We discuss applications to professional bodies and the market for unskilled labor.

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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 200611.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cns:cnscwp:200611
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  1. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
  2. Marco Ottaviani & Andrea Prat, 2001. "The Value of Public Information in Monopoly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1673-1683, November.
  3. Jonathan Levin, 2001. "Information and the Market for Lemons," Working Papers 01004, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  4. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-39, March.
  5. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. 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.
  7. Mailath George J. & Okuno-Fujiwara Masahiro & Postlewaite Andrew, 1993. "Belief-Based Refinements in Signalling Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 241-276, August.
  8. Overgaard, Per Baltzer, 1993. "Price as a signal of quality : A discussion of equilibrium concepts in signalling games," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 483-504, November.
  9. Ellingsen, Tore, 1997. "Price signals quality: The case of perfectly inelastic demand," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 43-61, November.
  10. 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.
  11. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1993. "Designing institutions for monetary stability," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 53-84, December.
  12. Shinnick, Edward & Stephen, Frank H., 2000. "Professional cartels and scale fees: chiselling on the celtic fringe?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 407-423, December.
  13. 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.
  14. E. Kohlberg & J.-F. Mertens, 1998. "On the Strategic Stability of Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 445, David K. Levine.
  15. Kessler, Anke S, 2001. "Revisiting the Lemons Market," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(1), pages 25-41, February.
  16. Bagwell, Kyle, 1991. "Optimal Export Policy for a New-Product Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1156-69, December.
  17. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520, 07.
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