Caller Number Five and Related Timing Games
There are two varieties of timing games in economics: Having more predecessors helps in a war of attrition and hurts in a pre-emption game. This paper introduces and explores a spanning class with rank-order payoffs} that subsumes both as special cases. We assume a continuous time setting with unobserved actions and complete information, and explore how equilibria of these games capture many economic and social timing phenomena --- shifting between phases of slow and explosive (positive probability) stopping. Inspired by auction theory, we first show how the symmetric Nash equilibria are each equivalent to a different "potential function". This device straightforwardly yields existence and characterization results. The Descartes Rule of Signs, e.g., bounds the number phase transitions. We describe how adjacent timing game phases interact: War of attrition phases are not played out as long as they would be in isolation, but instead are cut short by pre-emptive atoms. We bound the number of equilibria, and compute the payoff and duration of each equilibrium.
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