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