Negative Externalities and Equilibrium Existence in Competitive Markets with Adverse Selection
Rothschild and Stiglitz (1976) show that there need not exist a competitive equilibrium in markets with adverse selection. Building on their framework we demonstrate that externalities between agents − an agent's utility upon accepting a contract depends on the average type attracted by the respective principal − can solve the equilibrium existence problem, even when the size of the externalities is arbitrarily small. Our result highlights the degree of control a principal has over the attractiveness of his contracts as an important feature for equilibrium existence, thereby offering a new perspective on existing theories of competition in markets with adverse selection.
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