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Unforeseen Contingencies

  • Al-Najjar, Nabil I.
  • Anderlini, Luca
  • Felli, Leonardo

We develop a model of unforeseen contingencies. These are contingencies that are understood by economic agents — their consequences and probabilities are known — but are such that every description of such events necessarily leaves out relevant features that have a non-negligible impact on the parties’ expected utilities. Using a simple co-insurance problem as a backdrop, we introduce a model where states are described in terms of objective features, and the description of an event specifies a finite number of such features. In this setting, unforeseen contingencies are present in the co-insurance problem when the first-best risk-sharing contract varies with the states of nature in a complex way that makes it highly sensitive to the component features of the states. In this environment, although agents can compute expected pay-offs, they are unable to include in any ex-ante agreement a description of the relevant contingencies that captures (even approximately) the relevant complexity of the risky environment.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3271.

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Date of creation: Mar 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3271
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  1. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 1995. "Describability and Agency Problems," Game Theory and Information 9511001, EconWPA, revised 20 Sep 1996.
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