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On the Optimality of Privacy in Sequential Contracting

  • Giacomo Calzolari
  • Alessandro Pavan

This paper studies the exchange of information between two principals who contract sequentially with the same agent, as in the case of a buyer who purchases from multiple sellers. We show that when (a) the upstream principal is not personally interested in the downstream level of trade, (b) the agent’s valuations are positively correlated, and (c) preferences in the downstream relationship are separable, then it is optimal for the upstream principal to offer the agent full privacy. On the contrary, when any of these conditions is violated, there exist preferences for which disclosure is strictly optimal, even if the downstream principal does not pay for the information. We also examine the effects of disclosure on welfare and show that it does not necessarily reduce the agent’s surplus in the two relationships and in some cases may even yield a Pareto improvement. The paper describes this condition and its implications.

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File URL: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/papers/1404.pdf
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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1404.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1404
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  10. Raith, Michael, 1996. "A General Model of Information Sharing in Oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 260-288, October.
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  17. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
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  20. Prat, A. & Rustichini, A., 1998. "Sequential Common Agency," Discussion Paper 1998-95, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  22. Bester, Helmut & Strausz, Roland, 2001. "Contracting with Imperfect Commitment and the Revelation Principle: The Single Agent Case," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1077-98, July.
  23. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  24. Taylor, Curtis R., 2003. "Privacy in Competitive Markets," Working Papers 03-10, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  25. Haile, Philip A., 2003. "Auctions with private uncertainty and resale opportunities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 72-110, January.
  26. Larry Epstein & Michael Peters, 1996. "A Revelation Principle For Competing Mechanisms," Working Papers peters-96-02, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
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  28. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1990. "The Principal-Agent Relationship with an Informed Principal: The Case of Private Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(2), pages 379-409, March.
  29. Alessandro Lizzeri, 1999. "Information Revelation and Certification Intermediaries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 214-231, Summer.
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