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What do we pay for asymmetric information? The evolution of mechanisms in online markets

  • Chen, Liyun

The appearance of the Internet reduces transaction costs greatly, and brings the boom of online markets. While we are trying to regard it as the most realistic approximation of perfect competition market, the asymmetric information and a series of problems caused by it stop us from dreaming. As the old saying goes, there is no free lunch. This summer witnessed the collapse of the reputation system in Taobao, the biggest online transaction website in China. In fact, during the evolution of mechanisms in online markets, reputation, punishment and barriers to entry have been established in turn. What do we pay for maintaining these mechanisms? In which circumstance will they be effective? In this paper I try to build a series of models within the principal-agent frame- work and repeated games to explain why and what we should pay for asymmetric information while enjoying shopping online. Specifically, these mechanisms are considered step by step and their boundary validation conditions are discussed. Finally, as the conclusion indicates, the more range that a mechanism is effective, the more opportunity cost should be paid as a rent for information.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 22506.

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Date of creation: 20 Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:22506
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  1. Paul Resnick & Christopher Avery & Richard Zeckhauser, 1999. "The Market for Evaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 564-584, June.
  2. Johannes H�rner, 2002. "Reputation and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 644-663, June.
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  7. Ali Hortaçsu & F. Asís Martínez-Jerez & Jason Douglas, 2009. "The Geography of Trade in Online Transactions: Evidence from eBay and MercadoLibre," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 53-74, February.
  8. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  9. Spear, Stephen E & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617, October.
  10. Cabral, Luís M B & Hortaçsu, Ali, 2004. "The Dynamics of Seller Reputation: Theory and Evidence from eBay," CEPR Discussion Papers 4345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Michael D. Smith & Erik Brynjolfsson, 2001. "Consumer Decision-making at an Internet Shopbot: Brand Still Matters," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 541-558 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Chrysanthos Dellarocas, 2003. "The Digitization of Word of Mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback Mechanisms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(10), pages 1407-1424, October.
  13. Gerald Häubl & Valerie Trifts, 2000. "Consumer Decision Making in Online Shopping Environments: The Effects of Interactive Decision Aids," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(1), pages 4-21, May.
  14. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  15. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  16. Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, 2003. "The Digitization of Word-of-mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback Mechanisms," Working papers 4296-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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