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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
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:867
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  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. Green, Jerry, 1987. ""Making Book against Oneself," the Independence Axiom, and Nonlinear Utility Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 785-96, November.
  15. Aviad Heifetz & Chris Shannon & Yossi Spiegel, 2004. "What to Maximize if You Must," Discussion Papers 1414, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  18. Cubitt, Robin P. & Sugden, Robert, 2001. "On Money Pumps," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 121-160, October.
  19. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. 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.
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