Dynamic Processes of Social and Economic Interactions: On the Persistence of Inefficiencies
Armando R. Gomes
Washington University in Saint Louis - John M. Olin Business School
University College London - Department of Economics; Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (ENPC) - Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Analyse Socio-Economique (CERAS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 113, pp. 626-667, 2005
An economy with a finite number of agents and a finite number of states is considered. An exogenous institutional rule prescribes which moves from one state to another are feasible to each coalition. At each time, an agent is called to act with some exogenous probability, and he chooses a coalition, a feasible new state to move the economy to, and side payments between the agents in the coalition. The setup can be applied to various dynamic processes of social and economic interactions such as legislative bargaining, coalition formation, or exchange economies. Whenever agents are unable to write long-term contracts, but are otherwise unconstrained both in their ability to write arbitrary spot contracts and in their ability to collude, there can be long-run inefficiencies (with cycles or inefficient steady states). However, when agents are sufficiently patient, the initial state from which the process starts plays no role in the long run. Moreover, when there exists an efficient state that is free of negative externalities (in the sense that a move away from that state does not hurt the agents whose consent is not required for the move), the system must converge to this efficient state in the long run. It is thus more important to design institutions guaranteeing the existence of an efficient negative externality-free state than to implement a fine initialization of the process.
Date posted: May 12, 2005