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CHAPTER 12 The Economics of Information McGraw-Hill/Irwin Copyright © 2014 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 12 The Economics of Information McGraw-Hill/Irwin Copyright © 2014 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER 12 The Economics of Information McGraw-Hill/Irwin Copyright © 2014 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 Chapter Outline The mean and the variance Uncertainty and consumer behavior – Risk aversion – Consumer search Uncertainty and the firm – Risk aversion – Producer search – Profit maximization Uncertainty and the market – Asymmetric information – Signaling and screening Auctions – Types of auctions – Information structures – Optimal bidding strategies for risk-neutral bidders – Expected revenues in alternative types of auctions 12-2 Chapter Overview

3 Introduction In Chapter 11 we examined various pricing strategies that would permit firms with market power to enhance profits over charging a single, per-unit price. Most of our development of managerial economics has assumed that both consumers and firms were endowed with perfect information. Chapter 12 focuses on how imperfect information and uncertainty impacts: – Consumers’ decisions and behaviors – Firms’ decisions and behaviors – Markets efficiency and functioning 12-3 Chapter Overview

4 Measuring Uncertain Outcomes A variable that measures the outcome of an uncertain event is called a random variable. – Probabilities can be attached to different values of a random variable that denote the chance that a value occurs. Information about uncertain outcomes can be summarized by the mean (or, expected value) and variance of a random variable The Mean and the Variance

5 Measuring Uncertain Outcomes: Mean 12-5 The Mean and the Variance

6 Measuring Uncertain Outcomes: Variance and Standard Deviation 12-6 The Mean and the Variance

7 Attitudes Toward Risk 12-7 Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior

8 Managerial Decisions with Risk Averse Consumers: Product Quality Risk analysis can used to examine situations where consumers are uncertain about product quality. Consider a consumer who regularly uses Brand X. If a new product enters the market, Brand Y, under what conditions will the consumer be willing to try the new product? – Issues to overcome and consider: Relative certainty about Brand X. At equal prices among other things, a risk averse consumer will continue to purchase Brand X, since a risk averse consumer prefers the sure thing (Brand X) to a risky prospect (Brand Y). – Two tactics can be employed to induce a risk averse consumer to try a new product: Lower the price of Brand Y. Try to convince consumer the new product’s quality is higher than the old product Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior

9 Consumer Search 12-9 Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior

10 Consumer Search Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior

11 Optimal Search Strategy Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior Price Reservation price: Price at which a consumer is indifferent between purchasing at that price and searching for a lower price. Expected benefits and costs Acceptance Price RegionRejection Price Region

12 Consumer’s Search Rule Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior

13 Increasing Cost of Search Uncertainty and Consumer Behavior Price Expected benefits and costs Due to Increase in search costs.

14 Manager’s Risk Attitudes While manager must understand the impact of uncertainty on consumer behavior, uncertainty also impacts the manager’s input and output decisions. Manager’s risk profiles: – Risk averse: a manager who prefers a risky project with a lower expected value if the risk is lower than a project with a higher expected value. – Risk loving: manager who prefers a risky project with higher expected value and higher risk to one with lower expected value and lower risk. – Risk neutral: manager interested in maximizing expected profits; the variance of profits does not impact a risk- neutral manager’s decisions Uncertainty and the Firm

15 Manager’s Risk Attitudes In Action: Problem A risk-averse manager is considering two projects. The first project involves expanding the market for bologna; the second involves expanding the market for caviar. There is a 10 percent chance of recession and a 90 percent chance of an economic boom. The following table summarizes the profits under the different scenarios. Which project should manager undertake, and why? a Uncertainty and the Firm Project Boom (90%) Recession (10%) Mean Standard Deviation Bologna-$10,000$12,000-$7,800$6,600 Caviar20,000-8,00017,2008,400 Joint10,0004,0009,4001,800 Safe (T-Bill)3,000 0

16 Manager’s Risk Attitudes In Action: Answer Managers should not invest in T-Bills – The joint project is assured of making at least $4,000, which is greater than $3,000 under the T-Bill scenario. Since the expected returns of the bologna project are negative, neither a risk-neutral nor a risk-averse manager would choose to undertake this project. The manager should adopt either the caviar project or the joint project. Which project will depend on his or her risk preferences Uncertainty and the Firm Project Boom (90%) Recession (10%) Mean Standard Deviation Bologna-$10,000$12,000-$7,800$6,600 Caviar20,000-8,00017,2008,400 Joint10,0004,0009,4001,800 Safe (T-Bill)3,000 0

17 Manager’s Risk Attitudes and Diversification Notice from the previous problem that by investing in multiple projects, the manager may be able to reduce risk. The process of potentially reducing risk by investing in multiple projects is called diversification. Whether it is optimal to diversify depends on a manager’s risk preferences and the incentives provided to the manager to avoid risk Uncertainty and the Firm

18 Producer Search When producers are uncertain about the prices of inputs, an optimizing firm will use optimal search strategies. – These strategies mimic consumer search previously developed Uncertainty and the Firm

19 Profit Maximization and Uncertainty Uncertainty and the Firm

20 Profit Maximization and Uncertainty In Action: Problem Uncertainty and the Firm

21 Profit Maximization and Uncertainty In Action: Answer Uncertainty and the Firm

22 Asymmetric Information Uncertainty can profoundly impact markets abilities to efficiently allocate resources. Some markets are characterized by individuals who have better information than others. – Implication: Those individuals with the least information may choose not to participate in a market. When some people have better information than others in a market, the information people have is called asymmetric information. There are two specific manifestations related to asymmetric information in markets: – Adverse selection – Moral hazard Uncertainty and the Market

23 Asymmetric Information: Adverse Selection Adverse selection refers to situations where individuals have hidden characteristics and in which a selection process results in a pool of individuals with undesirable characteristics. – In this context, a hidden characteristic is something that one party to a transaction knows about itself but which are unknown by the other party Uncertainty and the Market

24 Asymmetric Information: Moral Hazard Moral hazard refers to a situation where one party to a contract takes a hidden action that benefits his or her at the expense of another party. – In this context, a hidden action is an action taken by one party in a relationship that cannot be observed by the other party. One way to mitigate the moral hazard problem is an incentive contract Uncertainty and the Market

25 Signaling Another way to mitigate the problem of moral hazard is signaling, which is an attempt by an informed party to send an observable indicator of his or her hidden characteristics to an uninformed party. For signaling to be effective it must be: – observable by the uninformed party. – a reliable indicator of the unobservable characteristic(s) and difficult for parties with other characteristics to easily mimic Uncertainty and the Market

26 Screening A final way to mitigate the moral hazard problem is by screening, which is an attempt by an uninformed party to sort individuals according to their characteristics. Screening may be achieved through a self- selection device. – A self-selection device is a mechanism in which informed parties are presented with a set of options, and the options they choose reveal their hidden characteristics to an uninformed party Uncertainty and the Market

27 Types of Auctions An auction is a mechanism where potential buyers compete for the right to own a good, service, or, more generally, anything of value. Sellers participating in an auction offer an item for sale, and wish to obtain the highest price. Buyers participating in an auction seek to obtain the item at the lowest possible price. – Bidders’ risk preferences can affect bidding strategies and the expected revenue a seller receives. Four basic auction types: – English (ascending-bid) – First-price, sealed-bid – Second-price, sealed-bid – Dutch (descending-bid) Auctions

28 Differences Among Auctions Types The timing of bidder decisions (simultaneously or sequentially) The amount the winner is required to pay Auctions

29 English Auction An English auction is an ascending sequential- bid auction in which bidders observe the bids of others and decide whether or not to increase the bid. The auction ends when a single bidder remains; this bidder obtains the item and pays the auctioneer the amount of the bid. – Bidders continually obtain information about one another’s bids. – Bidder who values the item the most will win Auctions

30 First-Price, Sealed-Bid Auction A first-price, sealed-bid auction is a simultaneous-move auction in which bidders simultaneously submit bids to an auctioneer. The auctioneer awards the item to the highest bidder, who pays the amount bid. – Bidders obtain no information about one another’s bids. – Bidder who values the item the most will win Auctions

31 Second-Price, Sealed-Bid Auction A second-price, sealed-bid auction is a simultaneous-move auction in which bidders simultaneously submit bids to an auctioneer. The auctioneer awards the item to the highest bidder, who pays the amount bid by the second- highest bidder. – Bidders obtain no information about one another’s bids. – Bidder who values the item the most will win, but pays the second-highest bid Auctions

32 Dutch Auction A Dutch auction is a descending sequential-bid auction in which the auctioneer beings with a high asking price and gradually reduces the asking price until one bidder announces a willingness to pay that price for the item. – Bidders obtain no information about one another’s bids throughout the auction process. – Bidder who values the item the most will win and pay the amount of his or her bid Auctions

33 Strategic Equivalence of Dutch and First-Price Auctions The Dutch and first-price, sealed-bid auctions are strategically equivalent; that is, the optimal bids by participants are identical for both types of auctions Auctions

34 Information Structures While the four auction types differ with respect to the information bidders have about the bids of other bidders, bidders also have different information structures about the value of their own bids. – Perfect information – Independent private values – Affiliated (or correlated) value estimates Special case: common-value auctions Auctions

35 Optimal Bidding Strategies for Risk-Neutral Bidders An optimal bidding strategy for risk-neutral bidders is a strategy that maximizes a bidder’s expected profit. Optimal bids depends on the – type of auction. – information available to bidders at the time of bidding Auctions

36 Strategies for Independent Private Value Auctions Auctions

37 Strategies for Independent Private Value Auctions In Action: Problem Auctions

38 Strategies for Independent Private Value Auctions In Action: Answer Auctions

39 Strategies for Correlated Values Auctions Bidders do not know their own valuations for an item, nor others’ valuations. – Implication: makes bidders vulnerable to the winner’s curse, which is the “bad news” conveyed to the winner that his or her estimate of the item’s value exceeds the estimates of all other bidders. To avoid the winner’s curve in a common-value auction, a bidder should revise downward his or her private estimate of the value to account for this fact. The auction process may reveal information about how much the other bidders value the object. – The winner’s curse is most pronounced in sealed-bid auctions since bidders don’t learn about other player’s valuation. – English auction, in contrast, provides bidders with information. Therefore, bidders may have to revise up their initial bids Auctions

40 Expected Revenues in Alternative Auction Types Comparison of expected revenue in auctions with risk-neutral bidders Auctions Information structureExpected revenues Independent private valuesEnglish=Second-price = First-Price = Dutch Affiliated value estimatesEnglish > Second-price > First-price = Dutch

41 Conclusion Information plays an important role in how economic agents make decisions. – When information is costly to acquire, consumers will continue to search for price information as long as the observed price is greater than the consumer’s reservation price. – When there is uncertainty surrounding the price a firm can charge, a firm maximizes profit at the point where the expected marginal revenue equals marginal cost. Many items are sold via auctions – English auction – First-price, sealed bid auction – Second-price, sealed bid auction – Dutch auction 12-41


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