Econometrica November 2017 is now online

TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume 85, Issue 6 (November 2017)

Full Issue

Articles

Uncertainty and Unemployment
Edouard Schaal

This paper studies the impact of time‐varying idiosyncratic risk at the establishment level on unemployment fluctuations over 1972–2009. I build a tractable directed search model with firm dynamics and time‐varying idiosyncratic volatility. The model allows for endogenous separations, entry and exit, and job‐to‐job transitions. I show that the model can replicate salient features of the microeconomic behavior of firms and that the introduction of volatility improves the fit of the model for standard business cycle moments. In a series of counterfactual experiments, I show that time‐varying risk is important to account for the magnitude of fluctuations in aggregate unemployment for past U.S. recessions. Though the model can account for about 40% of the total increase in unemployment for the 2007–2009 recession, uncertainty alone is not sufficient to explain the magnitude and persistence of unemployment during that episode.
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Sales Force and Competition in Financial Product Markets: The Case of Mexico's Social Security Privatization
Justine Hastings, Ali Hortaçsu, Chad Syverson

This paper examines how sales force impacts competition and equilibrium prices in the context of a privatized pension market. We use detailed administrative data on fund manager choices and worker characteristics at the inception of Mexico's privatized social security system, where fund managers had to set prices (management fees) at the national level, but could select sales force levels by local geographic areas. We develop and estimate a model of fund manager choice where sales force can increase or decrease customer price sensitivity. We find exposure to sales force lowered price sensitivity, leading to inelastic demand and high equilibrium fees. We simulate oft proposed policy solutions: a supply‐side policy with a competitive government player and a demand‐side policy that increases price elasticity. We find that demand‐side policies are necessary to foster competition in social safety net markets with large segments of inelastic consumers.
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Understanding the Price Effects of the MillerCoors Joint Venture
Nathan H. Miller, Matthew C. Weinberg

We document abrupt increases in retail beer prices just after the consummation of the MillerCoors joint venture, both for MillerCoors and its major competitor, Anheuser‐Busch. Within the context of a differentiated‐products pricing model, we test and reject the hypothesis that the price increases can be explained by movement from one Nash–Bertrand equilibrium to another. Counterfactual simulations imply that prices after the joint venture are 6%–8% higher than they would have been with Nash–Bertrand competition, and that markups are 17%–18% higher. We relate the results to documentary evidence that the joint venture may have facilitated price coordination.
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EXcess Idle Time
Federico M. Bandi, Davide Pirino, Roberto Renò

We introduce a novel economic indicator, named excess idle time (EXIT), measuring the extent of sluggishness in financial prices. Under a null and an alternative hypothesis grounded in no‐arbitrage (the null) and market microstructure (the alternative) theories of price determination, we derive a limit theory for EXIT leading to formal tests for staleness in the price adjustments. Empirical implementation of the theory indicates that financial prices are often more sluggish than implied by the (ubiquitous, in frictionless continuous‐time asset pricing) semimartingale assumption. EXIT is interpretable as an illiquidity proxy and is easily implementable, for each trading day, using transaction prices only. By using EXIT, we show how to estimate structurally market microstructure models with asymmetric information.
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Competitive Division of a Mixed Manna
Anna Bogomolnaia, Hervé Moulin, Fedor Sandomirskiy, Elena Yanovskaya

A mixed manna contains goods (that everyone likes) and bads (that everyone dislikes), as well as items that are goods to some agents, but bads or satiated to others. If all items are goods and utility functions are homogeneous of degree 1 and concave (and monotone), the competitive division maximizes the Nash product of utilities (Gale–Eisenberg): hence it is welfarist (determined by the set of feasible utility profiles), unique, continuous, and easy to compute. We show that the competitive division of a mixed manna is still welfarist. If the zero utility profile is Pareto dominated, the competitive profile is strictly positive and still uniquely maximizes the product of utilities. If the zero profile is unfeasible (for instance, if all items are bads), the competitive profiles are strictly negative and are the critical points of the product of disutilities on the efficiency frontier. The latter allows for multiple competitive utility profiles, from which no single-valued selection can be continuous or resource monotonic. Thus the implementation of competitive fairness under linear preferences in interactive platforms like SPLIDDIT will be more difficult when the manna contains bads that overwhelm the goods.
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Marriage, Labor Supply, and Home Production
Marion Goussé, Nicolas Jacquemet, Jean‐Marc Robin

We develop a search model of marriage where men and women draw utility from private consumption and leisure, and from a non‐market good that is produced in the home using time resources. We condition individual decisions on wages, education, and an index of family attitudes. A match‐specific, stochastic bliss shock induces variation in matching given wages, education, and family values, and triggers renegotiation and divorce. Using BHPS (1991–2008) data, we take as given changes in wages, education, and family values by gender, and study their impact on marriage decisions and intrahousehold resource allocation. The model allows to evaluate how much of the observed gender differences in labor supply results from wages, education, and family attitudes. We find that family attitudes are a strong determinant of comparative advantages in home production of men and women, whereas education complementarities induce assortative mating through preferences.
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Value of Persistent Information
Marcin Pęski, Juuso Toikka

We develop a theory of how the value of an agent's information advantage depends on the persistence of information. We focus on strategic situations with strict conflict of interest, formalized as stochastic zero-sum games where only one of the players observes the state that evolves according to a Markov operator. Operator Q is said to be better for the informed player than operator P if the value of the game under Q is higher than under P regardless of the stage game. We show that this defines a convex partial order on the space of ergodic Markov operators. Our main result is a full characterization of this partial order, intepretable as an ordinal notion of persistence relevant for games. The analysis relies on a novel characterization of the value of a stochastic game with incomplete information.
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Persuasion of a Privately Informed Receiver
Anton Kolotilin, Tymofiy Mylovanov, Andriy Zapechelnyuk, Ming Li

We study persuasion mechanisms in linear environments. A receiver has a private type and chooses between two actions. A sender designs a persuasion mechanism or an experiment to disclose information about a payoff‐relevant state. A persuasion mechanism conditions information disclosure on the receiver's report about his type, whereas an experiment discloses information independent of the receiver's type. We establish the equivalence of implementation by persuasion mechanisms and by experiments, and characterize optimal persuasion mechanisms.
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Progressive Learning
Avidit Acharya, Juan Ortner

We study a dynamic principal–agent relationship with adverse selection and limited commitment. We show that when the relationship is subject to productivity shocks, the principal may be able to improve her value over time by progressively learning the agent's private information. She may even achieve her first‐best payoff in the long run. The relationship may also exhibit path dependence, with early shocks determining the principal's long‐run value. These findings contrast sharply with the results of the ratchet effect literature, in which the principal persistently obtains low payoffs, giving up substantial informational rents to the agent.
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The Non-Democratic Roots of Elite Capture: Evidence from Soeharto Mayors in Indonesia
Monica Martinez‐Bravo, Priya Mukherjee, Andreas Stegmann

Democracies widely differ in the extent to which powerful elites and interest groups retain influence over politics. While a large literature argues that elite capture is rooted in a country's history, our understanding of the determinants of elite persistence is limited. In this paper, we show that allowing old‐regime agents to remain in office during democratic transitions is a key determinant of the extent of elite capture. We exploit quasi‐random from Indonesia: Soeharto‐regime mayors were allowed to finish their terms before being replaced by new leaders. Since mayors' political cycles were not synchronized, this event generated exogenous variation in how long old‐regime mayors remained in their position during the democratic transition. Districts with longer exposure to old‐regime mayors experience worse governance outcomes, higher elite persistence, and lower political competition in the medium run. The results suggest that slower transitions towards democracy allow the old‐regime elites to capture democracy.
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The Econometric Society 2016 Annual Report of the President

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Publication Date: 
Thursday, December 7, 2017

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