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The Role of Commitment in Bilateral Trade



We examine the buyer-seller problem under different levels of commitment. The seller is informed of the quality of the good, which affects both his cost and the buyer’s valuation, but the buyer is not. We characterize the allocations that can be achieved through mechanisms in which, unlike with full commitment, the buyer has the option to "walk away" after observing a given offer. We further characterize the equilibrium payoffs that can be achieved in the bargaining game in which the seller makes all the offers, as the discount factor goes to one. This allows us to identify how different levels of commitment affect outcomes, and which constraints, if any, preclude efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Dino Gerardi & Johannes Horner & Lucas Maestri, 2010. "The Role of Commitment in Bilateral Trade," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1760, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1760

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
    2. Ausubel, Lawrence M. & Deneckere, Raymond J., 1989. "A direct mechanism characterization of sequential bargaining with one-sided incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 18-46, June.
    3. John Riley & Richard Zeckhauser, 1983. "Optimal Selling Strategies: When to Haggle, When to Hold Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(2), pages 267-289.
    4. Raymond Deneckere & Meng-Yu Liang, 2006. "Bargaining with Interdependent Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1309-1364, September.
    5. Samuelson, William F, 1984. "Bargaining under Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 995-1005, July.
    6. Bester, Helmut & Strausz, Roland, 2001. "Contracting with Imperfect Commitment and the Revelation Principle: The Single Agent Case," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1077-1098, July.
    7. Matthews, Steven A. & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1989. "Pre-play communication in two-person sealed-bid double auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 238-263, June.
    8. Forges Francoise, 1994. "Posterior Efficiency," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 238-261, March.
    9. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, January.
    10. Mylovanov, Tymofiy, 2008. "Veto-based delegation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 297-307, January.
    11. Gresik, Thomas A., 1991. "Ex ante efficient, ex post individually rational trade," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 131-145, February.
    12. Gresik, Thomas A., 1991. "Ex ante incentive efficient trading mechanisms without the private valuation restriction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 41-63, October.
    13. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    14. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine & Jean Tirole, 1985. "Infinite-Horizon Models of Bargaining with One-Sided Incomplete Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1098, David K. Levine.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sher, Itai & Vohra, Rakesh, 2015. "Price discrimination through communication," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(2), May.
    2. Camargo, Braz & Lester, Benjamin, 2014. "Trading dynamics in decentralized markets with adverse selection," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 534-568.
    3. repec:the:publsh:2543 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jean Tirole, 2016. "From Bottom of the Barrel to Cream of the Crop: Sequential Screening With Positive Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1291-1343, July.
    5. Marilyn Pease & Kyungmin Kim, 2014. "Costly Search with Adverse Selection: Solicitation Curse vs. Accelerating Blessing," 2014 Meeting Papers 816, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Robert Shimer & Iván Werning, 2015. "Efficiency and Information Transmission in Bilateral Trading," NBER Working Papers 21495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Dino Gerardi & Lucas Maestri, 2013. "Bargaining over a Divisible Good in the Market for Lemons," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 312, Collegio Carlo Alberto.

    More about this item


    Bargaining; Mechanism design; Market for lemons;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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