Journal Of The Econometric Society

An International Society for the Advancement of Economic
Theory in its Relation to Statistics and Mathematics

Edited by: Guido W. Imbens • Print ISSN: 0012-9682 • Online ISSN: 1468-0262

Econometrica: May, 2005, Volume 73, Issue 3

Complexity and Competition
p. 739-769

Douglas Gale, Hamid Sabourian

Extensive‐form market games typically have a large number of noncompetitive equilibria. In this paper, we argue that the complexity of noncompetitive behavior provides a justification for competitive equilibrium in the sense that if rational agents have an aversion to complexity (at the margin), then maximizing behavior will result in simple behavioral rules and hence in a competitive outcome. For this purpose, we use a class of extensive‐form dynamic matching and bargaining games with a finite number of agents. In particular, we consider markets with heterogeneous buyers and sellers and deterministic, exogenous, sequential matching rules, although the results can be extended to other matching processes. If the complexity costs of implementing strategies enter players’ preferences lexicographically with the standard payoff, then every equilibrium strategy profile induces a competitive outcome.

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