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Unique Durable Assets


  • Lovo , Stefano


  • Spaenjers , Christophe



This paper presents a model of trading in unique durable assets that provide idiosyncratic payoffs, such as art, luxury real estate, and firm subsidiaries. Agents make purchase and sale decisions in an auction market based on their private use value of the asset and on the expected resale revenues. Individuals with a relatively strong taste for the asset are willing to pay a high price and sell only when hit by a liquidity shock. By contrast, those deriving little pleasure from ownership aim to resell quickly at a profit if winning an auction despite their low bids. As a result, holding periods and financial returns are negatively correlated. Furthermore, speculative activity increases in economic expansions, leading to a positive correlation between prices and voluntary sales volume. The empirical predictions of our model find support in historical art transaction data.

Suggested Citation

  • Lovo , Stefano & Spaenjers , Christophe, 2014. "Unique Durable Assets," HEC Research Papers Series 1037, HEC Paris.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:heccah:1037

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    Cited by:

    1. Goetzmann, William N. & Jones, Peter W. & Maggioni, Mauro & Walden, Johan, 2016. "Beauty is in the bid of the beholder: An empirical basis for style," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 388-402.
    2. Spaenjers, Christophe & Goetzmann, William N. & Mamonova, Elena, 2015. "The economics of aesthetics and record prices for art since 1701," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 79-94.
    3. William Goetzmann & Elena Mamonova & Christophe Spaenjers, 2014. "The Economics of Aesthetics and Three Centuries of Art Price Records," NBER Working Papers 20440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    auctions; durable goods; endogenous trading; private value; speculation;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature


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