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Sovereign bonds are highly divisible, usually of uncertain quality, and auctioned in large lots to a large number of investors. This leads us to assume that no individual bidder can affect the bond price, and to develop a tractable Walrasian theory of Treasury auctions in which investors are asymmetrically informed about the quality of the bond. We characterize the price of the bond for different degrees of asymmetric information, both under discriminatory-price (DP) and uniform-price (UP) protocols. We endogenize information acquisition and show that DP protocols are likely to induce multiple equilibria, one of which features asymmetric information, while UP protocols are unlikely to sustain equilibria with asymmetric information. This result has welfare implications: asymmetric information negatively affects the level, dispersion and volatility of sovereign bond prices, particularly in DP protocols. Download Paper
This paper constructs a dynamic model of health insurance to evaluate the short- and long-run effects of policies that prevent firms from conditioning wages on health conditions of their workers, and that prevent health insurance companies from charging individuals with adverse health conditions higher insurance premia. Our study is motivated by recent US legislation that has tightened regulations on wage discrimination against workers with poorer health status (such as Americans with Disability Act of 1990, ADA, and its amendment in 2008, the ADAAA) and that prohibits health insurance companies from charging different premiums for workers of different health status starting in 2014 (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA). In the model, a trade-off arises between the static gains from better insurance against poor health induced by these policies and their adverse dynamic incentive effects on household efforts to lead a healthy life. Using household panel data from the PSID we estimate and calibrate the model and then use it to evaluate the static and dynamic consequences of no-wage discrimination and no-prior conditions laws for the evolution of the cross-sectional health and consumption distribution of a cohort of households, as well as ex-ante lifetime utility of a typical member of this cohort. In our quantitative analysis we find that although the competitive equilibrium features too little consumption insurance and a combination of both policies is effective in providing such insurance period by period, it is suboptimal to introduce both policies jointly since such a policy innovation severely undermines the incentives to lead healthier lives and thus induces a more rapid deterioration of the cohort health distribution over time. This effect more than offsets the static gains from better consumption insurance so that expected discounted lifetime utility is lower under both policies, relative to implementing wage nondiscrimination legislation alone. This is true despite the fact that both policy options are strongly welfare improving relative to the competitive equilibrium. Download Paper
This paper constructs a dynamic model of health insurance to evaluate the short- and long run effects of policies that prevent firms from conditioning wages on health conditions of their workers, and that prevent health insurance companies from charging individuals with adverse health conditions higher insurance premia. Our study is motivated by recent US legislation that has tightened regulations on wage discrimination against workers with poorer health status (Americans with Disability Act of 2009, ADA, and ADA Amendments Act of 2008, ADAAA) and that will prohibit health insurance companies from charging different premiums for workers of different health status starting in 2014 (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA). In the model, a trade-off arises between the static gains from better insurance against poor health induced by these policies and their adverse dynamic incentive effects on household efforts to lead a healthy life. Using household panel data from the PSID we estimate and calibrate the model and then use it to evaluate the static and dynamic consequences of no-wage discrimination and no-prior conditions laws for the evolution of the cross-sectional health and consumption distribution of a cohort of households, as well as ex-ante lifetime utility of a typical member of this cohort. In our quantitative analysis we find that although a combination of both policies is effective in providing full consumption insurance period by period, it is suboptimal to introduce both policies jointly since such policy innovation induces a more rapid deterioration of the cohort health distribution over time. This is due to the fact that combination of both laws severely undermines the incentives to lead healthier lives. The resulting negative effects on health outcomes in society more than offset the static gains from better consumption insurance so that expected discounted lifetime utility is lower under both policies, relative to only implementing wage nondiscrimination legislation. Download Paper
Marcet and Marimon (1994, revised 1998) developed a recursive saddle point method which can be used to solve dynamic contracting problems that include participation, enforcement and incentive constraints. Their method uses a recursive multiplier to capture implicit prior promises to the agent(s) that were made in order to satisfy earlier instances of these constraints. As a result, their method relies on the invertibility of the derivative of the Pareto frontier and cannot be applied to problems for which this frontier is not strictly concave. In this paper we show how one can extend their method to a weakly concave Pareto frontier by expanding the state space to include the realizations of an end of period lottery over the extreme points of a .at region of the Pareto frontier. With this expansion the basic insight of Marcet and Marimon goes through .one can make the problem recursive in the Lagrangian multiplier which yields significant computational advantages over the conventional approach of using utility as the state variable. The case of a weakly concave Pareto frontier arises naturally in applications where the principal’s choice set is not convex but where randomization is possible. Download Paper
We study the incentive issues associated with self-enforcing stochastic monitoring in a model of investment and production. The efficient contract features a debt-like payment with a threshold in terms of the reported output in which all of the reported output is taken up to the threshold if monitoring doesn't occur and all of the output is taken if monitoring does occur. An output report above the threshold leads to zero probability of monitoring and just the threshold amount being paid out. The efficiency gap between the self-enforcing contract and the commitment constraint is minimized when the monitors holds no part of the residual claim on the firm, which we associate with equity. Misreporting by the manager is an important component of the efficient contract. Download Paper
This paper addresses the question of whether agents will invest efficiently in attributes that will increase their productivity in subsequent matches with other individuals. We present a two-sided matching model in which buyers and sellers make investment decisions prior to a matching stage. Once matched, the buyer and seller bargain over the transfer price. In contrast to most matching models, preferences over possible matches are affected by decisions taken before the matching process. We show that if bargaining respects the existence of outside options (in the sense that the resulting allocation is in the core of the assignment game), then efficient decisions can always be sustained in equilibrium. However, there may also be inefficient equilibria. Our analysis identifies a potential source of inefficiency not present in most matching models. Download Paper