The London School of Economics
London WC2A 2AE, UK
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|September 2017||Pricing when Customers Care about Fairness but Misinfer Markups|
with Kristof Madarasz, Pascal Michaillat: w23778
This paper proposes a theory of price rigidity consistent with survey evidence that firms stabilize prices out of fairness to their consumers. The theory relies on two psychological assumptions. First, customers care about the fairness of prices: fixing the price of a good, consumers enjoy it more at a low markup than at a high markup. Second, customers underinfer marginal costs from prices: when prices rise due to an increase in marginal costs, customers underappreciate the increase in marginal costs and partially misattribute higher prices to higher markups. Firms anticipate customers’ reaction and trim their price increases. Hence, the passthrough of marginal costs into prices falls short of one—prices are somewhat rigid. Embedded in a simple macroeconomic model, our pricing theory prod...
|December 2016||The Demand for Bad Policy when Voters Underappreciate Equilibrium Effects|
with Ernesto Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó: w22916
Although most of the political-economy literature blames inefficient policies on institutions or politicians' motives to supply bad policy, voters may themselves be partially responsible by demanding bad policy. In this paper, we posit that voters may systematically err when assessing potential changes in policy by underappreciating how new policies lead to new equilibrium behavior. This biases voters towards policy changes that create direct benefits—welfare would rise if behavior were held constant—even if these policies lower welfare because people adjust behavior. Conversely, voters are biased against policies that impose direct costs even if they induce larger indirect benefits. Using a lab experiment, we find that a majority of subjects vote against policies that, while inflicting ne...
|May 2015||Financial Markets where Traders Neglect the Informational Content of Prices|
with Matthew Rabin, Dimitri Vayanos: w21224
We present a model of a financial market where some traders are "cursed" when choosing how much to invest in a risky asset, failing to fully take into account what prices convey about others' private information. Cursed traders put more weight on their private signals than rational traders. But because they neglect that the price encodes other traders' information, prices depend less on private signals and more on public signals than rational-expectation-equilibrium (REE) prices. Markets comprised entirely of cursed traders generate more trade than those comprised entirely of rationals; mixed markets can generate even more trade, as rationals employ momentum-trading strategies to exploit cursed traders. We contrast our results to other models of departures from REE and show that per-trader...