Econometrica September 2018 is now online

TABLE OF CONTENTS  Volume 86, Issue 5 (September 2018)

The full content of the journal is accessible at

Social Discounting and Intergenerational Pareto
Tangren Feng, Shaowei Ke

The most critical issue in evaluating policies and projects that affect generations of individuals is the choice of social discount rate. This paper shows that there exist social discount rates such that the planner can simultaneously be (i) an exponential discounting expected utility maximizer; (ii) intergenerationally Pareto—that is, if all individuals from all generations prefer one policy/project to another, the planner agrees; and (iii) strongly non‐dictatorial—that is, no individual from any generation is ignored. Moreover, to satisfy (i)–(iii), if the time horizon is long enough, it is generically sufficient and necessary for social discounting to be more patient than the most patient individual's long‐run discounting, independent of the social risk attitude.
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Robust Mechanisms Under Common Valuation
Songzi Du

I construct an informationally robust auction to sell a common‐value good. I examine the revenue guarantee of an auction over all information structures of bidders and all equilibria. As the number of bidders gets large, the revenue guarantee of my auction converges to the full surplus, regardless of how information changes as more bidders are added. My auction also maximizes the revenue guarantee when there is a single bidder.
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Using Instrumental Variables for Inference about Policy Relevant Treatment Parameters
Magne Mogstad, Andres Santos, Alexander Torgovitsky

We propose a method for using instrumental variables (IV) to draw inference about causal effects for individuals other than those affected by the instrument at hand. Policy relevance and external validity turn on the ability to do this reliably. Our method exploits the insight that both the IV estimand and many treatment parameters can be expressed as weighted averages of the same underlying marginal treatment effects. Since the weights are identified, knowledge of the IV estimand generally places some restrictions on the unknown marginal treatment effects, and hence on the values of the treatment parameters of interest. We show how to extract information about the treatment parameter of interest from the IV estimand and, more generally, from a class of IV‐like estimands that includes the two stage least squares and ordinary least squares estimands, among others. Our method has several applications. First, it can be used to construct nonparametric bounds on the average causal effect of a hypothetical policy change. Second, our method allows the researcher to flexibly incorporate shape restrictions and parametric assumptions, thereby enabling extrapolation of the average effects for compliers to the average effects for different or larger populations. Third, our method can be used to test model specification and hypotheses about behavior, such as no selection bias and/or no selection on gain.
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Expressive voting and its cost: Evidence from runoffs with two or three candidates
Vincent Pons, Clémence Tricaud

In French parliamentary and local elections, candidates ranked first and second in the first round automatically qualify for the second round, while a third candidate qualifies only when selected by more than 12.5 percent of registered citizens. Using a fuzzy RDD around this threshold, we find that the third candidate's presence substantially increases the share of registered citizens who vote for any candidate and reduces the vote share of the top two candidates. It disproportionately harms the candidate ideologically closest to the third and causes her defeat in one fifth of the races. Additional evidence suggests that these results are driven by voters who value voting expressively over voting strategically for the top‐two candidate they dislike the least to ensure her victory; and by third candidates who, absent party‐level agreements leading to their dropping out, value the benefits associated with competing in the second round more than influencing its outcome.
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Market Power and the Laffer Curve
Eugenio J. Miravete, Katja Seim, Jeff Thurk

We study commodity taxation and characterize the Laffer curve, a trade‐off between tax rates and revenue, in noncompetitive markets. Pricing in these markets leads to incomplete tax pass‐through and agents re optimize their purchase and pricing decisions in response to any tax change. We use detailed data from Pennsylvania, a state that monopolizes retail sales of alcoholic beverages, to estimate a model of demand for horizontally differentiated products that ties consumers' demographic characteristics to heterogeneous preferences for spirits. We find that under the state's current tax policy, spirits are overpriced. Distillers respond to decreases in the tax rate by increasing wholesale prices, which limits the state's revenue gain to only 13% of the incremental tax revenue predicted under the common assumption of perfect competition. The strategic response of noncompetitive firms to changes in taxation therefore flattens the Laffer curve significantly.
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Quantifying Confidence
George‐Marios Angeletos, Fabrice Collard, Harris Dellas

We develop a tractable method for augmenting macroeconomic models with autonomous variation in higher‐order beliefs. We use this to accommodate a certain type of waves of optimism and pessimism that can be interpreted as the product of frictional coordination and, unlike the one featured in the news literature, regards the short‐term economic outlook rather than the medium‐ to long‐run prospects. We show that this enrichment provides a parsimonious explanation of salient features of the data; it accounts for a significant fraction of the business‐cycle volatility in estimated models that allow for various competing structural shocks; and it captures a type of fluctuations that have a Keynesian flavor but do not rely on nominal rigidities.
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Trading and Information Diffusion in Over-the-Counter Markets
Ana Babus, Péter Kondor

We propose a model of trade in over‐the‐counter (OTC) markets in which each dealer with private information can engage in bilateral transactions with other dealers, as determined by her links in a network. Each dealer's strategy is represented as a quantity‐price schedule. We analyze the effect of trade decentralization and adverse selection on information diffusion, expected profits, trading costs, and welfare. Information diffusion through prices is not affected by dealers' strategic trading motives, and there is an informational externality that constrains the informativeness of prices. Trade decentralization can both increase or decrease welfare. A dealer's trading cost is driven by both her own and her counterparties' centrality. Central dealers tend to learn more, trade more at lower costs, and earn higher expected profit.
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Overidentification in Regular Models
Xiaohong Chen, Andres Santos

In the unconditional moment restriction model of Hansen (1982), specification tests and more efficient estimators are both available whenever the number of moment restrictions exceeds the number of parameters of interest. We show that a similar relationship between potential refutability of a model and existence of more efficient estimators is present in much broader settings. Specifically, a condition we name local overidentification is shown to be equivalent to both the existence of specification tests with nontrivial local power and the existence of more efficient estimators of some “smooth” parameters in general semi/nonparametric models. Under our notion of local overidentification, various locally nontrivial specification tests such as Hausman tests, incremental Sargan tests (or optimally weighted quasi likelihood ratio tests) naturally extend to general semi/nonparametric settings. We further obtain simple characterizations of local overidentification for general models of nonparametric conditional moment restrictions with possibly different conditioning sets. The results are applied to determining when semi/nonparametric models with endogeneity are locally testable, and when nonparametric plug‐in and semiparametric two‐step GMM estimators are semiparametrically efficient. Examples of empirically relevant semi/nonparametric structural models are presented.
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Cascading Failures in Production Networks
David Rezza Baqaee

This paper analyzes a general equilibrium economy featuring input‐output connections, imperfect competition, and external economies of scale owing to entry and exit. The interaction of input‐output networks with industry‐level market structure affects the amplification of shocks and the pattern of diffusion in the model, generating cascades of firm entry and exit across the economy. In this model, sales provide a poor measure of the systemic importance of industries. Unlike the relevant notions of centrality in competitive constant‐returns‐to‐scale models, systemic importance depends on the industry's role as both a supplier and a consumer of inputs, as well as the market structure of industries. A basic calibration of the model suggests that aggregate output is three times more volatile in response to labor productivity shocks when compared to a perfectly competitive model.
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Measuring Ambiguity Attitudes for All (Natural) Events
Aurélien Baillon, Zhenxing Huang, Asli Selim, Peter P. Wakker

Measurements of ambiguity attitudes have so far focused on artificial events, where (subjective) beliefs can be derived from symmetry of events and can be then controlled for. For natural events as relevant in applications, such a symmetry and corresponding control are usually absent, precluding traditional measurement methods. This paper introduces two indexes of ambiguity attitudes, one for aversion and the other for insensitivity/perception, for which we can control for likelihood beliefs even if these are unknown. Hence, we can now measure ambiguity attitudes for natural events. Our indexes are valid under many ambiguity theories, do not require expected utility for risk, and are easy to elicit in practice. We use our indexes to investigate time pressure under ambiguity. People do not become more ambiguity averse under time pressure but become more insensitive (perceive more ambiguity). These findings are plausible and, hence, support the validity of our indexes.
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General Equilibrium with Uncertainty Loving Preferences
Aloisio Araujo, Alain Chateauneuf, Juan Pablo Gama, Rodrigo Novinski

More and more economists are finding both empirical and experimental evidence of economic behavior that is well beyond classical economics. In particular, empirical evidence (Jullien and Salanié (2000)) and experimental evidence (Kahneman and Tversky (1979)) supported the importance of risk loving, ambiguity loving, and related behavior in economics. However, these types of preferences have not been analyzed in the general equilibrium literature with a finite number of agents because non‐convexity of preferences creates difficulty in proving existence of equilibrium. The main result in this paper provides a set of conditions under which equilibrium exists in such economies.
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Forthcoming Papers

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2017 Election of Fellows to the Econometric Society

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Backmatter of Econometrica Vol. 86 Iss. 5

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, October 23, 2018