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Poets as consultants? Economic contract theory in German literature

  • Urs Birchler


In German literature, particularly in poetry, an amazing wealth of illustrations for economic contract theory can be found. Signaling, screening, incentive contracts, the winner's curse, and even the prisoner's dilemma within a team are treated by different writers. The respective examples are attractive for at least two reasons: First, for their clear representation of economic or game theoretic structures; and second, for their interdisciplinary nature, combining economics with law and psychology. Should we thus look at writers as consultants superior to economists? The answer is "no" in the sense that writers do not tell us how to behave in any particular situation, but "yes" in the sense that they remind us to be modest with respect to our strategic faculties; an advice not necessarily welcome to the economists' profession.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 with number 2002-10.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: May 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2002:2002-10
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521593069 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521789905 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Rubinstein, A., 1998. "Economics and Language," Papers 14-98, Tel Aviv.
  4. Benny Moldovanu & Manfred Tietzel, 1998. "Goethe's Second-Price Auction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 854-859, August.
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