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Information and consumer fraud in a signalling model


  • Silvia Martínez-Gorricho

    () (Dpto. Análisis Económico Aplicado)


This article considers a two-sided private information model. We assume that two exogenously given qualities are offered in a monopolistic market. Prices are ¿xed. A low quality seller chooses to be either honest (by charging the lower market price) or dishonest (by charging the higher price). We discuss the signaling role of the consumer’s private information on the equilibrium level of dishonesty, incidence of fraud and trade. We demonstrate that the equilibrium incidence of fraud is nonmonotonic in the buyer’s private information when the prior belief favors the low-quality seller strongly enough. This result holds as long as information is noisy and regardless of its private or public nature. Welfare consequences are ambiguous.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Martínez-Gorricho, 2014. "Information and consumer fraud in a signalling model," Working Papers. Serie AD 2014-01, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  • Handle: RePEc:ivi:wpasad:2014-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yuk-fai Fong, 2005. "When Do Experts Cheat and Whom Do They Target?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
    2. Kenneth L. Judd & Michael H. Riordan, 1994. "Price and Quality in a New Product Monopoly," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 773-789.
    3. Levin, Jonathan, 2001. "Information and the Market for Lemons," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(4), pages 657-666, Winter.
    4. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1994. "Supplying Information to Facilitate Price Discrimination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 309-327, May.
    5. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-329, March-Apr.
    6. Edward E. Schlee, 1996. "The Value of Information About Product Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 803-815, Winter.
    7. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    8. Asher Wolinsky, 1983. "Prices as Signals of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 647-658.
    9. 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.
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    More about this item


    Consumer Fraud; Asymmetric Information; Price Signalling;

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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