Econometrica: Jan 2000, Volume 68, Issue 1

Optimal Contracts when Enforcement is a Decision Variable

https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0262.00095
p. 119-134

Stefan Krasa, Anne P. Villamil

This paper analyzes choice‐theoretic costly enforcement in an intertemporal contracting model with a differentially informed investor and entrepreneur. An intertemporal contract is modeled as a mechanism in which there is limited commitment to payment and enforcement decisions. The goal of the analysis is to characterize the effect of choice‐theoretic costly enforcement on the structure of optimal contracts. The paper shows that simple debt is the optimal contract when commitment is limited and costly enforcement is a decision variable (Theorem 1). In contrast, stochastic contracts are optimal when agents can commit to the ex‐ante optimal decisions (Theorem 2). The paper also shows that the costly state verification model can be viewed as a reduced form of an enforcement model in which agents choose payments and strategies as part of a perfect Bayesian Nash equilibrium.

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