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Safety in Markets: An Impossibility Theorem for Dutch Books

  • Leeat Yariv
  • David Laibson

This paper explores the extent to which markets constrain intertemporal preferences. First, we show that without transaction costs, agents are immune to exploitation in competitive markets. In particular, a sequence of trades leaving any market participant strictly worse off (termed a money losing Dutch book) is generically impossible. When transaction costs exist in the market, Dutch books are plausible only when agents have inaccurate beliefs about their own future behavior. Thus, markets are appropriate filters of non-standard (time-inconsistent) preferences only when sufficient irrational behavioral expectations are allowed. Second, we show that while non-standard preferences may be sustained in competitive markets, they are generically non-identifiable. Under mild conditions, any profile of demands can be explained with a standard, time-consistent, model. Nonetheless, we demonstrate that such a model will have weak predictive power across markets if non-standard preferences indeed prevail.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2004 Meeting Papers with number 867.

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Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:867
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Larry Blume & David Easley, 2001. "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? Belief Selection in Complete and Incomplete Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1319, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  3. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  4. Heifetz, Aviad & Shannon, Chris & Spiegel, Yossi, 2007. "What to maximize if you must," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 31-57, March.
  5. Anna Fostel & Herbert E. Scarf & Michael J. Todd, 2003. "Two New Proofs of Afriat's Theorem," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1415, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  7. Spiegler, Ran, 2006. "Competition over agents with boundedly rational expectations," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(2), pages 207-231, June.
  8. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ariel Rubinstein & Rani Spiegler, 2005. "Money Pumps in the Market," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000941, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Border, K.C. & Segal, U., 1997. "Coherent Odds and Subjective Probability," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9717, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  11. Alvaro Sandroni, 2000. "Do Markets Favor Agents Able to Make Accurate Predicitions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1303-1342, November.
  12. Harris, Christopher J, 1985. "Existence and Characterization of Perfect Equilibrium in Games of Perfect Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 613-28, May.
  13. Narayana R. Kocherlakota., 2001. "Looking for evidence of time-inconsistent preferences in asset market data," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 13-24.
  14. David Laibson & Xavier Gabaix, 2004. "Competition and Consumer Confusion," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 663, Econometric Society.
  15. Machina, Mark J, 1989. "Dynamic Consistency and Non-expected Utility Models of Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 1622-68, December.
  16. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
  17. Debreu, Gerard, 1993. "Existence of competitive equilibrium," Handbook of Mathematical Economics, in: K. J. Arrow & M.D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 4, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 697-743 Elsevier.
  18. Cubitt, Robin P. & Sugden, Robert, 2001. "On Money Pumps," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 121-160, October.
  19. Kubler, Felix, 2003. "Observable restrictions of general equilibrium models with financial markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 137-153, May.
  20. Border, Kim C & Segal, Uzi, 1994. "Dutch Books and Conditional Probability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(422), pages 71-75, January.
  21. Blume, Lawrence & Easley, David, 1992. "Evolution and market behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 9-40, October.
  22. Erzo G. J. Luttmer & Thomas Mariotti, 2003. "Subjective Discounting in an Exchange Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 959-989, October.
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