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Cream Skimming in Financial Markets


  • Patrick Bolton
  • Tano Santos
  • Jose A. Scheinkman


We propose an equilibrium occupational choice model, where agents can choose to work in the real sector (become entrepreneurs) or to become informed dealers in financial markets. Agents incur costs to become informed dealers and develop skills for valuing assets up for trade. The financial sector comprises a transparent competitive exchange, where uninformed agents trade and an opaque over-the-counter (OTC) market, where informed dealers offer attractive terms for the most valuable assets entrepreneurs put up for sale. Thanks to their information advantage and valuation skills, dealers are able to provide incentives to entrepreneurs to originate good assets. However, the opaqueness of the OTC market allows dealers to extract informational rents from entrepreneurs. Trade in the OTC market imposes a negative externality on the organized exchange, where only the less valuable assets end up for trade. We show that in equilibrium the dealers' informational rents in the OTC market are too large and attract too much talent to the financial industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bolton & Tano Santos & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2011. "Cream Skimming in Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 16804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16804
    Note: CF

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dimitri Vayanos & Pierre-Olivier Weill, 2008. "A Search-Based Theory of the On-the-Run Phenomenon," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(3), pages 1361-1398, June.
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    3. Afonso, Gara, 2011. "Liquidity and congestion," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 324-360, July.
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    5. Lagos, Ricardo & Rocheteau, Guillaume & Weill, Pierre-Olivier, 2011. "Crises and liquidity in over-the-counter markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(6), pages 2169-2205.
    6. Vincent Glode & Richard C. Green & Richard Lowery, 2012. "Financial Expertise as an Arms Race," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(5), pages 1723-1759, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hasan, Iftekhar & Horvath, Roman & Mares, Jan, 2015. "What type of finance matters for growth? Bayesian model averaging evidence," Research Discussion Papers 17/2015, Bank of Finland.
    2. Emmanuel Farhi & Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2013. "Fear of rejection? Tiered certification and transparency," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 44(4), pages 610-631, December.
    3. Mohammad Davoodalhosseini, 2018. "Adverse Selection with Heterogeneously Informed Agents," Staff Working Papers 18-7, Bank of Canada.
    4. Bai, Jennie & Philippon, Thomas & Savov, Alexi, 2016. "Have financial markets become more informative?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 625-654.
    5. Ductor, Lorenzo & Grechyna, Daryna, 2015. "Financial development, real sector, and economic growth," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 393-405.
    6. Thomas Philippon, 2015. "Has the US Finance Industry Become Less Efficient? On the Theory and Measurement of Financial Intermediation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1408-1438, April.
    7. Thorsten Beck, 2013. "Finance, growth and fragility: the role of government," International Journal of Banking, Accounting and Finance, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1/2), pages 49-77.
    8. Marco Di Maggio & Marco Pagano, 2012. "Financial Disclosure and Market Transparency with Costly Information Processing," EIEF Working Papers Series 1212, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised May 2014.
    9. Beck, Thorsten & Degryse, Hans & Kneer, Christiane, 2014. "Is more finance better? Disentangling intermediation and size effects of financial systems," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 10(C), pages 50-64.
    10. Shagas, Natalia & Bojechkova, A.V. & Pervishin, Y.N. & Perevyshina, E.A., 2016. "Modeling of State Influence on the Processes of Economic Growth," Working Papers 2132, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
    11. Popov, Alexander, 2017. "Evidence on finance and economic growth," Working Paper Series 2115, European Central Bank.
    12. Khabibulina, Liliya & Hefti, Andreas, 2015. "Talent Allocation, Financial Intermediation and Growth: Evidence and Theory," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113095, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Thomas Philippon, 2014. "Efficiency and Benefit-Cost Analysis of the Financial System," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(S2), pages 107-120.
    14. Kneer, E.C., 2013. "Essays on the size of the financial aector, financial liberalization and growth," Other publications TiSEM e0f0b672-ce74-40a3-8222-2, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    15. Basak, Deepal & Murray, Alexander & Zhao, Yunhui, 2017. "Does Financial Tranquility Call for More Stringent Regulation?," MPRA Paper 81373, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Philippon, Thomas, 2016. "The FinTech Opportunity," CEPR Discussion Papers 11409, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Stefan Arping, 2013. "Proprietary Trading and the Real Economy," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-032/IV/DSF52, Tinbergen Institute.
    18. Jennie Bai, 2012. "Have Financial Markets Become More Informative?," 2012 Meeting Papers 1193, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Law, Siong Hook & Singh, Nirvikar, 2014. "Does too much finance harm economic growth?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 36-44.
    20. Gründler, Klaus & Weitzel, Jan, 2013. "The financial sector and economic growth in a panel of countries," Discussion Paper Series 123, Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Chair of Economic Order and Social Policy.
    21. Uras, Rasim Burak & Wagner, Wolf, 2017. "Efficient Lemons," CEPR Discussion Papers 11803, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Monnet, Cyril & Quintin, Erwan, 2017. "Limited disclosure and hidden orders in asset markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(3), pages 602-616.
    23. Francesco D'Acunto & Laurent Frésard, 2018. "Finance, Talent Allocation, and Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 6883, CESifo Group Munich.
    24. repec:bof:bofrdp:urn:nbn:fi:bof-201508211364 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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