A Theory of Dynamic Contracting with Financial Constraints
50 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017 Last revised: 8 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 28, 2020
Financial constraints preclude many surplus producing economic transactions, and inhibit the growth of many others. This paper models financial constraints as the interaction of two forces: the agent has persistent private information and is strapped for cash. The wedge between the optimal and efficient allocation, termed distortion, increases over time with each successive "bad shock" and decreases with each "good shock". This overturns the standard result of decreasing distortions in dynamic mechanism design without financial constraints. At any point in the contract, an endogenous number of "good shocks" are required for the principal to provide some liquidity and then eventually for the contract to become efficient. Efficiency is reached almost surely. The average rate at which contract become efficient is decreasing in persistence of shocks; in particular, the iid model predicts a quick dissolution of financial constraints. This speaks to the relevance of modeling persistence in dynamic models of agency. The problem is solved recursively, and building on the literature, a technical tool of finding the minimal subset of the recursive domain that houses the optimal contract is further developed.
Keywords: Dynamic Mechanism Design, Financial Contracting
JEL Classification: D82, D86, G00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation