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Rational and Irrational Bubbles: an Experiment

  • Moinas, Sophie
  • Pouget, Sébastien

This paper proposes a theory of rational bubbles in an economy with finite trading opportunities. Bubbles arise because agents are never sure to be last in the market sequence. This theory is used to design an experimental setting in which bubbles can be made rational or irrational by varying one parameter. This complements the experimental literature on irrational bubbles initiated by Smith, Suchanek and Williams (1988). Our experimental results suggest that it is pretty difficult to coordinate on rational bubbles even in an environment where irrational bubbles flourish. Maximum likelihood estimations show that these results can be reconciled within the context of Camerer, Ho, and Chong (2004)'s cognitive hierarchy model, and Mc Kelvey and Palfrey (1995)'s quantal response equilibrium.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 09-045.

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Date of creation: May 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Econometrica, vol.�81, n°4, juillet 2013, p.�1507-1539.
Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:21929
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  1. Lei, V. & Noussair, C. & Plott, C.R., 1998. "Non-Speculative Bubbles in Experimental Asset Markets: Lack of Common Knowledge of Rationality Vs. Actual Irrationality," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1120, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  2. Blanchard, Olivier Jean, 1979. "Speculative bubbles, crashes and rational expectations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-389.
  3. Tirole, Jean, 1982. "On the Possibility of Speculation under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1163-81, September.
  4. Allen, Franklin & Gorton, Gary, 1993. "Churning Bubbles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 813-36, October.
  5. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  6. Martin Dufwenberg & Tobias Lindqvist & Evan Moore, 2005. "Bubbles and Experience: An Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1731-1737, December.
  7. Allen F. & Morris S. & Postlewaite A., 1993. "Finite Bubbles with Short Sale Constraints and Asymmetric Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 206-229, December.
  8. Van Boening, Mark V. & Williams, Arlington W. & LaMaster, Shawn, 1993. "Price bubbles and crashes in experimental call markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 179-185.
  9. Porter, David P & Smith, Vernon L, 1995. "Futures Contracting and Dividend Uncertainty in Experimental Asset Markets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(4), pages 509-41, October.
  10. Lucy F. Ackert & Narat Charupat & Richard Deaves & Brian D. Kluger, 2006. "The origins of bubbles in laboratory asset markets," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2006-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  11. Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Asset Bubbles and Overlapping Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1499-1528, November.
  12. Smith, Vernon L & Suchanek, Gerry L & Williams, Arlington W, 1988. "Bubbles, Crashes, and Endogenous Expectations in Experimental Spot Asset Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1119-51, September.
  13. Charles Noussair & Stephane Robin & Bernard Ruffieux, 2001. "Price Bubbles in Laboratory Asset Markets with Constant Fundamental Values," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 87-105, June.
  14. Weil, Philippe, 1987. "Confidence and the Real Value of Money in an Overlapping Generations Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 1-22, February.
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