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Profit Maximization, Relative Prices, and the Maximization of Shareholders' Real Wealth


  • Egbert DIERKER
  • Birgit GRODAL


General equilibrium models of oligopolistic competition give rise to relative prices only without determining the price level. It is well known that the choice of a numéraire or, more generally, of a normalization rule converting relative prices into absolute prices entails drastic consequences for the Nash equilibria. In this paper we show that, given a firm has chosen a particular profit function as its objective, profit maximization can be expressed in such a way that it depends on relative prices only. However, the choice of such an objective function need not be in the interest of the shareholders. This problem is overcome by relating the profits of a firm to the expenditure of its shareholders. We define the maximization of shareholders' real wealth as the objective of a firm. This concept is based on profits and on shareholders' expenditures. Moreover, it depends on relative prices only rather than on arbitrary price normalizations, which cannot be derived from the economic structure of the model. As a result there is no need for absolute prices in the theory of imperfect competition.
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  • Egbert DIERKER & Birgit GRODAL, 1995. "Profit Maximization, Relative Prices, and the Maximization of Shareholders' Real Wealth," Vienna Economics Papers vie9503, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:vie9503 Note: Replaced by working paper 9706.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
    2. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1978. "On the Time Consistency of Optimal Policy in a Monetary Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1411-1428, November.
    3. Eichengreen, Barry, 1990. "Is Europe an Optimum Currency Area?," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt40m5g6pp, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    4. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1985. "Inflation and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 530-538, June.
    5. Genberg, Hans, 1989. " Exchange Rate Management and Macroeconomic Policy: A National Perspective," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(2), pages 439-469.
    6. Manfred Neumann, 1991. "Precommitment by central bank independence," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 95-112, June.
    7. Georg Winckler, 1991. "Exchange Rate Appreciation As a Signal of a New Policy Stance," IMF Working Papers 91/32, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Peter Brandner & Albert Jaeger, 1992. "Aus WIFO-Studien: Zinsniveau und Zinsstruktur in Österreich," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 65(11), pages 593-595, November.
    9. Vickers, John, 1986. "Signalling in a Model of Monetary Policy with Incomplete Information," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 443-455, November.
    10. Douglas D. Purvis, 1992. "Economic Integration, Currency Areas, and Macroeconomic Policy," Working Papers 859, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    11. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Dufwenberg & Paul Heidhues & Georg Kirchsteiger & Frank Riedel & Joel Sobel, 2011. "Other-Regarding Preferences in General Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 613-639.

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