information asymmetry

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pages: 209 words: 13,138

Empirical Market Microstructure: The Institutions, Economics and Econometrics of Securities Trading by Joel Hasbrouck

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Alvin Roth, barriers to entry, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, discrete time, disintermediation, distributed generation, experimental economics, financial intermediation, index arbitrage, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, inventory management, market clearing, market design, market friction, market microstructure, martingale, price discovery process, price discrimination, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Thaler, second-price auction, selection bias, short selling, statistical model, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, transaction costs, two-sided market, ultimatum game, zero-sum game

In the model (and in real markets), a trade can trigger a wave of elections. 5.5 Empirical Implications This book’s presentation of information asymmetry focuses on its role in trading situations. More broadly, though, asymmetric information figures SEQUENTIAL TRADE MODELS prominently in many models of corporate finance and asset pricing. The sequential trade models (and others to follow) establish a connection between information asymmetries and observable market phenomena. The construction of proxies for the former via empirical analysis of the latter ranks as one of the most important goals of empirical microstructure research. In the model of section 5.2, the structural asymmetric information parameter is µ (the proportion of informed traders in the population). µ is positively related to both the bid-ask spread and the revision in beliefs (compare Eqs. (5.7) and (5.1)).

This is an important point because although information asymmetries related to value are quite plausible in some markets, they are more dubious in others. In equity markets, for example, advance knowledge of an earnings surprise, takeover announcement, or similar event confers an obvious advantage. Similar events do not, however, characterize the government bond and foreign exchange markets. Models of these markets, therefore, must rely on a broader concept of private information. This important point has been stressed by Lyons (2001). 5.4.2 Fixed Transaction Costs Suppose that in addition to asymmetric information considerations, the dealer must pay a transaction cost c on each trade (as in the Roll model).

Subrahmanyam considers the case of a multiple security market that includes a basket security, for example, a stock index futures contract or an index exchange traded fund. The diversification in an index greatly mitigates firm-specific information asymmetries, making index securities generally cheaper to trade. Holden and Subrahmanyam (1992, 1994), Foster and Viswanathan (1996), and Back, Cao, and Willard (2000) consider multiperiod models with multiple informed traders. 8 A Generalized Roll Model 8.1 Overview Following the economic analysis, we now turn to empirical examination of asymmetric information by developing a generalization of the Roll model. One sensible first step is to allow the efficient price to be partially driven by the trade direction indicator variable.

Culture and Prosperity: The Truth About Markets - Why Some Nations Are Rich but Most Remain Poor by John Kay

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Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, California gold rush, complexity theory, computer age, constrained optimization, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, equity premium, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, experimental economics, Exxon Valdez, failed state, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, George Gilder, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, haute couture, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invention of the telephone, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, late capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, popular electronics, price discrimination, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, second-price auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, urban decay, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, yield curve, yield management

Odysseus would not have been impressed by the argument that the behavior he fears, being irrational, will not happen. And nor are we. Information (Chapter 19) ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Asymmetric information is endemic in modern market economies. It is easy to conclude that the remedy for asymmetric information is to tell consumers more, either by regulation or by recognizing disclosure of risks as a legal defense. Yet, as these examples illustrate, such measures are almost use- Culture and Prosperity { 349} less. The normal market mechanism for dealing with asymmetric information is reputation. When we place a deposit with a bank or visit a doctor, we rely on the reputation of the bank and the doctor to assure the security of our deposit and the wisdom of the advice.

Simon USA 1978 Decision making Vernon Smith USA 2003 Behavioral economics Robert M. Solow USA 1987 Theory of economic growth A. Michael Spence USA 2001 Asymmetric information George J. Stigler USA 1982 Industrial structures, functioning of markets, and causes and effects of public regulation Joseph E. Stiglitz USA 2001 Asymmetric information Richard Stone UK 1984 National income accounting Jan Tin bergen Netherlands 1969 Economic dynamics James Tobin USA 1981 Finance theory and macroeconomics William Vickrey USA 1996 Asymmetric information {glossary} ••••••••••••••••••••••• absolute advantage balance of payments bounded rationality See COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.

Yet a business partner in Antonio's venture would sensibly be nervous of information asymmetry and moral hazard. Even if Antonio is completely honest and truthfully reveals all he knows, he may be more inclined to offer participations when he is nervous about the prospects for his trade than when he is optimistic. 20 And Antonio will certainly take more risks if he does not bear the whole consequences of failure. This is not entirely a bad thing. Optimism and risk sharing enable many more new businesses to be started and contribute to the pluralism of a market economy. Information asymmetries extend more widely. Those who invest with Antonio will not be a random sample of the population.


pages: 523 words: 111,615

The Economics of Enough: How to Run the Economy as if the Future Matters by Diane Coyle

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, bonus culture, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, call centre, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, disintermediation, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Financial Instability Hypothesis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Hyman Minsky, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, low skilled workers, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, megacity, Network effects, new economy, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, principal–agent problem, profit motive, purchasing power parity, railway mania, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, The Design of Experiments, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Market for Lemons, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Spirit Level, transaction costs, transfer pricing, tulip mania, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, web application, web of trust, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

But note that—referring back to the previous chapter—a number of increasingly important sectors of the economy such as music and software also have these characteristics of nonrivalry and nonexcludability. Moreover, many goods and services are characterized by a lack of information about their quality. This can be either because of an information asymmetry between buyer and seller (the seller of a used car knows much more about it than the customer), or because it is an experience good which must be consumed to know what it’s like, for example watching a movie. Information asymmetries and shortfalls are an important reason why markets might not work efficiently. It will be apparent that there are many ways in which markets can “fail,” more so than was the conventional wisdom in the 1980s and 1990s, and covering many more activities than those normally provided by the government.

They will involve a more productive and thoughtful interplay between markets and governments than we’ve typically had in the past, one taking account of the dramatic technological and structural change in the economy. Markets and governments need each other to function well, and indeed often “fail” in the same contexts. The existence of transactions costs and information asymmetries present a challenge to any institutional framework. The work of the 2009 Nobel laureates Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson focuses precisely on the way these aspects of reality shape different kinds of institutional response. The utterly transformed world of information, due to ICTs, is revolutionizing the governance of every economy, and we’re only partway through the revolution.

This “states versus markets” perspective is bogus, however. Debates about the scope of government intervention on close inspection turn out to be about the nature of government intervention.6 Markets and governments are likely to fail in similar ways because the “failures” stem from inherent problems such as information asymmetries and spillovers between individual decisions. These make it hard for any institution, whether market or state or some other structure, to bring about an ideal outcome. The deep changes in the structure of the economy have made current institutional and governance failures—in both markets and government—acute.


pages: 243 words: 61,237

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

always be closing, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, complexity theory, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disintermediation, future of work, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, out of africa, Richard Thaler, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, Upton Sinclair, Wall-E, zero-sum game

When sellers know more than buyers, buyers must beware. It’s no accident that people in the Americas, Europe, and Asia today often know only two words of Latin. In a world of information asymmetry, the guiding principle is caveat emptor—buyer beware. Akerlof’s provocative thought piece recast how economists and others reckoned with individual transactions and entire markets. So with this example as a model, let’s try another intellectual finger exercise. Imagine a world not of information asymmetry, but of something closer to information parity, where buyers and sellers have roughly equal access to relevant information. What would happen then?

But the only way to truly influence others is to adopt “a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions.”10 Because of Fisher’s and Covey’s influence, “win-win” has become a fixture in organizations around the world, though often more in parlance than in practice. One explanation for the disconnect between word and deed goes back to the upheaval I described in Chapter 3. Under conditions of information asymmetry, results frequently are win-lose. After all, when I know more than you, I can get what I want by beating you. And since information asymmetry was the defining condition of sales for so long, our muscle memory often takes us in that direction. But with the emergence of information parity (or at least something close to it), those instincts, developed for a different environment, can send us down the wrong path.

Kowalski’s name, along with a reminder in his calendar to call him, and moves to the next name on this list. “After the easy ones,” Girard writes, “there are many Kowalskis, if you keep searching.”8 That Girard found enough clueless Kowalskis to become the world’s greatest salesman—and that he remains out and about teaching sales skills—might seem to validate that information asymmetry and the ignoble tactics it allows are alive and well. But there’s one more thing you should know about Joe Girard. He hasn’t actually sold a car since 1977. He quit the business more than three decades ago to teach others how to sell. (The Deloitte & Touche audit his office sent me verifying his record is dated 1991 and covers a fifteen-year period beginning in 1963.)


pages: 354 words: 26,550

High-Frequency Trading: A Practical Guide to Algorithmic Strategies and Trading Systems by Irene Aldridge

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algorithmic trading, asset allocation, asset-backed security, automated trading system, backtesting, Black Swan, Brownian motion, business process, capital asset pricing model, centralized clearinghouse, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computerized trading, diversification, equity premium, fault tolerance, financial intermediation, fixed income, high net worth, implied volatility, index arbitrage, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, inventory management, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market friction, market microstructure, martingale, Myron Scholes, New Journalism, p-value, paper trading, performance metric, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Small Order Execution System, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, systematic trading, trade route, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve, zero-sum game

When the quoting dealer receives order flow that he suspects may come from an informed trader and may leave the dealer at a disadvantage relative to the market movements, the dealer increases the spread he quotes in order to compensate himself against potentially adverse uncertainty in price movements. As a result, the wider the quoted bid-ask spread, the higher the dealer’s estimate of information asymmetry between his clients and the dealer himself. Given that the dealer has the same access to public information as do most of the dealer’s clients, the quoted bid-ask spread may serve as a measure of asymmetric information available in the market at large at any given point in time. Effective Bid-Ask Spread The effective bid-ask spread is computed as twice the difference between the latest trade price and the midpoint between the quoted bid and ask 147 Trading on Market Microstructure prices, divided by the midpoint between the quoted bid and ask prices.

As the order flow from informed traders to the market maker conveys information from traders to the market maker, the subsequent I 145 146 HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADING changes in the bid-ask spread may also convey information from the market maker to other market participants. This chapter describes information-based microstructure trading strategies. MEASURES OF ASYMMETRIC INFORMATION Asymmetric information present in the markets leads to adverse selection, or the ability of informed traders to “pick off” uninformed market participants. According to Dennis and Weston (2001) and Odders-White and Ready (2006), the following measures of asymmetric information have been proposed over the years: r r r r r Quoted bid-ask spread Effective bid-ask spread Information-based impact Adverse-selection components of the bid-ask spread Probability of informed trading Quoted Bid-Ask Spread The quoted bid-ask spread is the crudest, yet most readily observable measure of asymmetric information.

According to Dennis and Weston (2001) and Odders-White and Ready (2006), the following measures of asymmetric information have been proposed over the years: r r r r r Quoted bid-ask spread Effective bid-ask spread Information-based impact Adverse-selection components of the bid-ask spread Probability of informed trading Quoted Bid-Ask Spread The quoted bid-ask spread is the crudest, yet most readily observable measure of asymmetric information. First suggested by Bagehot (1971) and later developed by numerous researchers, the bid-ask spread reflects the expectations of market movements by the market maker using asymmetric information. When the quoting dealer receives order flow that he suspects may come from an informed trader and may leave the dealer at a disadvantage relative to the market movements, the dealer increases the spread he quotes in order to compensate himself against potentially adverse uncertainty in price movements.


pages: 288 words: 76,343

The Plundered Planet: Why We Must--And How We Can--Manage Nature for Global Prosperity by Paul Collier

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agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, business climate, Doha Development Round, energy security, food miles, information asymmetry, Kenneth Arrow, megacity, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stewart Brand

Somehow, the copper companies kept failing to make any net profits: large revenues were always offset by large expenses. Information asymmetries and corruption may have found their apogee in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In October 2009 the Financial Times reported that out of gold exports estimated to be around a billion dollars, the government was capturing revenues of only $37,000. When I raised the issue with the Minister of Finance he doubted the accuracy of the numbers but agreed that there was a massive problem of smuggling. The information asymmetry between tax authorities and a company can be narrowed if the authorities hire specialist accountancy firms to audit the company’s books.

Leveling the Playing Field That seemingly simple example of a corrupt official being bribed by a foreign company contained a second and more subtle type of problem. The corrupt minister was probably himself being ripped off by the company because he was on the wrong end of the asymmetric information problem that I introduced in the previous chapter. He simply did not know as much as the company offering the bribes about the true value of the contracts he was awarding. There is an institutional technology for overcoming the asymmetric information problem: selling the extraction rights through auction. Auctions can be complicated, but they can level the playing field between a savvy company and an ignorant government.

The Chinese deals, negotiated in secrecy, had the potential to create all the problems we have encountered: corruption, asymmetric information, and time-inconsistency. However, finger-wagging at China has met with the predictable response. By 2008 the EITI executive was sufficiently concerned to ask me to suggest an alternative approach, one I will outline in the next chapter. Why Not Nationalize Resource Extraction? If resource-extraction companies have ripped off governments through a cocktail of corruption, asymmetric information, and discounts that reflect the time-consistency problem, and if prospecting is in any case best financed by government, why not let government handle the exploitation of natural assets?


pages: 339 words: 95,988

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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airport security, Broken windows theory, crack epidemic, desegregation, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, mental accounting, moral hazard, More Guns, Less Crime, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, pets.com, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, school choice, sensible shoes, Steven Pinker, Ted Kaczynski, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty

By then, the suspicion of lemonness will have faded; by then, some people will be selling their perfectly good year-old cars, and the lemon can blend in with them, likely selling for more than it is truly worth. It is common for one party to a transaction to have better information than another party. In the parlance of economists, such a case is known as an information asymmetry. We accept as a verity of capitalism that someone (usually an expert) knows more than someone else (usually a consumer). But information asymmetries everywhere have in fact been gravely wounded by the Internet. Information is the currency of the Internet. As a medium, the Internet is brilliantly efficient at shifting information from the hands of those who have it into the hands of those who do not.

January 8, 2006 Our book Freakonomics includes a chapter titled “How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?” This chapter was our effort to bring to life the economic concept known as information asymmetry, a state wherein one party to a transaction has better information than another party. It is probably obvious that real-estate agents typically have better information than their clients. The Klan story was perhaps less obvious. We argued that the Klan’s secrecy—its rituals, made-up language, passwords and so on—formed an information asymmetry that furthered its aim of terrorizing blacks and others. But the Klan was not the hero of our story. The hero was a man named Stetson Kennedy, a white Floridian from an old-line family who from an early age sought to assail racial and social injustices.

Unless you decide to spend $2,300 for “The Last Hole” (a casket with golf scenes) or “Memories of the Hunt” (featuring big-racked bucks and other prey) or one of the much cheaper models that the funeral director somehow failed even to mention. The Internet, powerful as it is, has hardly slain the beast that is information asymmetry. Consider the so-called corporate scandals of the early 2000s. The crimes committed by Enron included hidden partnerships, disguised debt, and the manipulation of energy markets. Henry Blodget of Merrill Lynch and Jack Grubman of Salomon Smith Barney wrote glowing research reports of companies they knew to be junk.


pages: 472 words: 117,093

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson

3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Airbnb, airline deregulation, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backtesting, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, British Empire, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, complexity theory, computer age, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, disintermediation, distributed ledger, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, family office, fiat currency, financial innovation, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, law of one price, Lyft, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precision agriculture, prediction markets, pre–internet, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, transportation-network company, traveling salesman, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, yield management, zero day

Knowledge differentials, unfortunately, kept these transactions from happening. The idea that such “information asymmetries” are harmful not just for the less informed party but also for markets overall was formalized by economist George Akerlof in his classic 1970 paper “The Market for ‘Lemons.’ ” Akerlof showed that the used-car market could suffer greatly because of the existence of “lemons”‡—apparently fine cars that, in fact, had bad mechanical problems. Sellers know which cars are lemons but most buyers don’t, and this information asymmetry will keep the used-car market small and inefficient unless it’s addressed by, for example, having dealers offer money-back guarantees to customers who feel that they’ve been cheated.

Akerlof showed that in extreme cases, information asymmetry could lead to complete market breakdown and the end of trade. This insight was so counterintuitive and radical at the time that his paper was repeatedly rejected from the top journals in economics, with one referee explaining that the journal “did not publish papers on subjects of such triviality” while another took the opposite tack, writing “if this paper were correct, economics would be different,” so it couldn’t be correct. But Akerlof was right about the critical importance of information asymmetries—economics was different—and ultimately he was recognized with a Nobel prize for this work.

But Akerlof was right about the critical importance of information asymmetries—economics was different—and ultimately he was recognized with a Nobel prize for this work. Few information asymmetries are deeper or more important than the one that exists between someone who wants a ride across town and a stranger offering to provide that ride in a private car. Even if most drivers are completely honest and safe, the financial and personal risk of getting a bad one appears unacceptably high. Unless this inherent information asymmetry was overcome, the market for person-to-person rides would never take off. But by March of 2016, Uber was handling 50 million rides per month in the United States. The great majority of Uber’s ride suppliers were not professional chauffeurs; they were simply people who wanted to make money with their labor and their cars.


pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

Yet there’s plenty of material for such an education because lots of social scientists have studied, from one angle or another, the questions of how middlemen provide value and profit from their roles between buyers and sellers. For example, economic theory has much to say about transaction-cost economics, two-sided markets, and intermediaries’ ability to reduce information asymmetries between buyers and sellers. In particular, game theory informs our understanding of repeated interactions, reputations, shirking and cheating, and third-party enforcement. Social psychology and experimental economics show how acting on behalf of others affects people’s behavior and impressions.

The chapter on Risk Bearers showed that we have always relied on middlemen to even out ups and downs of uncertain demand and supply; today’s “Uber of” this or that is just the latest technological application of this basic role. The chapters on Certifiers and Enforcers showed how effective middlemen reduce informational asymmetries between buyers and sellers. The Insulator chapter showed how a middleman can act as an equalizer, righting the balance of power between the less experienced players on one side and the experts on the other or enabling the novices to tout their merits and ask for more of what they want than they could comfortably do on their own.

Therefore, to profit from risk, middlemen, like successful insurers, must be astute at teasing apart these two types of risk: •Internal risk. This is my term for what finance scholars call counterparty risk, or risk due to the characteristics or actions of a trading partner. In other words, internal risks are risks caused by asymmetric information (adverse selection and moral hazard). Risk-bearing middlemen should avoid internal risk because it can only harm them and their partners on the other side. That’s why, for example, a lender should be wary of lending money to someone with no job and no assets. •External risk. This is what economists call exogenous risk and what lawyers call acts of God or force majeure: risks that trading partners cannot control.


pages: 1,088 words: 228,743

Expected Returns: An Investor's Guide to Harvesting Market Rewards by Antti Ilmanen

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Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, backtesting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, commodity trading advisor, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, debt deflation, deglobalization, delta neutral, demand response, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, diversification, diversified portfolio, dividend-yielding stocks, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, framing effect, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, Google Earth, high net worth, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, incomplete markets, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market friction, market fundamentalism, market microstructure, mental accounting, merger arbitrage, mittelstand, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, negative equity, New Journalism, oil shock, p-value, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price anchoring, price stability, principal–agent problem, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, riskless arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, selection bias, Sharpe ratio, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, stochastic volatility, survivorship bias, systematic trading, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, value at risk, volatility arbitrage, volatility smile, working-age population, Y2K, yield curve, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Liquidity differences can often be explained by varying degrees of information asymmetry—a key determinant of illiquidity that can in extreme situations cause market breakdowns. At such times, the credibility of information about market prices—which comes from markets being continuously traded with transparent pricing—can influence asset valuations as much as information about economic fundamentals. General confidence in the financial system and in the health of counterparties supports the liquidity of all assets but especially that of more complex and opaque assets; the loss of such confidence raises concerns about information asymmetry and can result in virtual closing of more fragile markets.

These illiquidity-related premia appear to raise the expected returns of certain alternative asset classes as well as less liquid pockets of traditional asset classes, such as corporate bonds and small-cap equities. Illiquidity premia are hardly constant over time; they apparently were bid down to near zero by early 2007 and then rose sky high during the 2008 liquidity drought. Disagreement and information asymmetries Another CAPM assumption—homogeneous expectations—is obviously unrealistic, but this was a very convenient modeling device. In the past decade, disagreement models showed how differences in investor beliefs can influence financial markets through several channels: gradual information flow, limited attention, and heterogeneous views.

On supply–demand factors I cite Scholes (1972) and Lamont–Thaler (2003), on index inclusion effects Shleifer (1986) and Wurgler–Zhuravskaya (2002), on inflation-linked bonds D’Amico et al. (2010), on market frictions Garleanu–Pedersen (2009a), on liquidity Acharya–Pedersen (2005), on disagreement Hong–Stein (2007), and on information asymmetries Vayanos–Woolley (2008). On the efficient markets hypothesis, I recommend Fama’s surveys (1970, 1991, 1998), on extensions Grossman–Stiglitz (1980) and Lo (2004), on the many criticisms Soros (2008), Akerlof–Shiller (2009), and Fox (2009), and on defense Rubinstein (2001), Cochrane (2007), and Ball (2009). 6 Behavioral finance • Behavioral finance states that investor irrationality causes systematic mispricings that rational arbitrageurs cannot fully offset due to scarce capital and riskiness of “arbitrage”


pages: 375 words: 88,306

The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism by Arun Sundararajan

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, call centre, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, distributed ledger, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, job-hopping, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, megacity, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, peer-to-peer rental, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transportation-network company, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, universal basic income, Zipcar

As platforms like Airbnb, Lyft, Getaround, and Etsy disrupt old economic systems rooted in firm-to-consumer interactions and individual ownership, we are witnessing myriad regulatory issues. These issues, discussed in my 2015 University of Chicago Law Review paper that I coauthored with Molly Cohen, include new solutions to old forms of information asymmetry, new and old “externalities,” and an increasingly blurred boundary between professional and personal modes of exchange.10 Information Asymmetry: When One Party Knows More than the Other Most forms of peer-to-peer exchange are characterized by asymmetric information—knowledge relevant to the intended exchange that is possessed by one trading party but not by the other: for example, a passenger who enters a taxicab may not know the qualifications or intentions of its driver, or a hotelier knows more about the quality of her short-term accommodation than a potential guest does.

Well, the assertion that new marketplaces will result in perfect competition and depress earning levels focuses on one older aspect of economic theory while ignoring a different aspect that has gained a great deal of attention in the last 40 years: that of “information asymmetry.” As I defined and discussed in chapter 6, sharing economy platforms can reduce many forms of information asymmetry. The predictions of economic theory are that such reductions will increase, rather than reduce, wages over time. Let me explain the consequences of information asymmetry, and in particular, the effect of “adverse selection” further by appealing to the example of used car markets that George Akerlof famously used in his Nobel Prize–winning work.

These issues, discussed in my 2015 University of Chicago Law Review paper that I coauthored with Molly Cohen, include new solutions to old forms of information asymmetry, new and old “externalities,” and an increasingly blurred boundary between professional and personal modes of exchange.10 Information Asymmetry: When One Party Knows More than the Other Most forms of peer-to-peer exchange are characterized by asymmetric information—knowledge relevant to the intended exchange that is possessed by one trading party but not by the other: for example, a passenger who enters a taxicab may not know the qualifications or intentions of its driver, or a hotelier knows more about the quality of her short-term accommodation than a potential guest does. Similarly, a borrower knows more about her creditworthiness than a lender does. These and other forms of information asymmetry can lead to a lower level of economic activity than society might find desirable. Part of this could be due to uncertainty about quality—I’m not going to get into a taxi unless I’m sure the driver is reliable and won’t rip me off. Or information asymmetry can lead to the situation of “adverse selection”: if there’s no good way of distinguishing between lower and higher quality providers, then a customer is likely to be willing to pay, on average, a price commensurate with the value they’d get from an average quality provider.


pages: 226 words: 59,080

Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science by Dani Rodrik

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airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, butterfly effect, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, distributed generation, Donald Davies, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, fudge factor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loss aversion, low skilled workers, market design, market fundamentalism, minimum wage unemployment, oil shock, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, school vouchers, South Sea Bubble, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, unorthodox policies, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, white flight

Work by Michael Spence, Joseph Stiglitz, and George Akerlof showed that these types of markets could exhibit a variety of distinctive features, including signaling (costly investment in behavior that has no immediate apparent benefit), rationing (refusal to provide a good or service, even at a higher price), and market collapse. This work earned these three economists a joint Nobel Prize in 2001 and spawned a huge literature that hums along to this day. As a result, we understand much better the workings of credit and insurance markets, where information asymmetries are rife.†† Today, economists are increasingly turning their attention to markets in which consumers do not behave fully rationally. This reorientation has produced a new field called behavioral economics, which attempts to integrate the insights of psychology with the formal modeling approaches of economics.

Depending on what we assume along these and many other dimensions, we have learned from decades of modeling that imperfect competition can produce a bewildering array of possibilities. More important, thanks to the transparency of the assumptions, we have also learned what each one of these outcomes is predicated on. In the 1970s, economists began to model another aspect of markets: asymmetric information. This is an important feature of real-world markets. Workers have a better sense of their ability than do employers. Creditors know whether they are likely to default or not, while lenders do not. Buyers of used cars do not know whether they’re buying a lemon, but sellers do. Work by Michael Spence, Joseph Stiglitz, and George Akerlof showed that these types of markets could exhibit a variety of distinctive features, including signaling (costly investment in behavior that has no immediate apparent benefit), rationing (refusal to provide a good or service, even at a higher price), and market collapse.

The irrelevance of sunk costs (payments already made that cannot be recouped) and the equivalence between financial costs and opportunity costs (the value of choices not exercised) do not hold under less than full rationality, to cite but two examples. Although grossly simplified, this telescopic account should give a sense of the expanding diversity of the profession’s explanatory models. We have moved beyond competitive models to imperfect competition, asymmetric information, and behavioral economics. Idealized, flawless markets have given way to markets that can fail in all sorts of ways. Rational behavior is being overlaid with findings from psychology. Typically, the expansion has its roots in empirical observations that seem to contradict existing models.


pages: 252 words: 73,131

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us by Tim Sullivan

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Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, creative destruction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, helicopter parent, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, proxy bid, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, school choice, school vouchers, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy

Their imperfections notwithstanding, the advent of babysitter platforms is bad news for brick-and-mortar nanny placement services, whose businesses are surely suffering. But we’re still skeptical that any intermediary, however diligent, will overcome the anxieties of the modern helicopter parent. We doubt that day will ever arrive. Asymmetric information is dead? Long live asymmetric information. The Network Externalities of Ladies’ Night The calculation of how to set prices is a lot more complicated on platforms than in one-sided markets because they are defined by what economists call network externalities, where one person’s purchase makes the item more valuable for other would-be consumers.15 Obviously, this isn’t the case for groceries: the happiness I get from a box of Oreos isn’t affected by whether you prefer to spend your money on Oreos or chocolate-chip cookies or kale.

It’s why, despite their best efforts, no amount of antifraud efforts by Amazon or eBay or anyone else will rid the world of conmen. As long as there’s money to be made off easy marks, there will be operators able to separate fools from their money. And if somehow tomorrow morning we were to figure out a technology to end information asymmetry, someone else would figure out by tomorrow afternoon some way of making more of it. 4 THE POWER OF SIGNALS IN A WORLD OF CHEAP TALK FACE TATTOOS AND OTHER SIGNS OF HIDDEN QUALITIES When fifteen-year-old Robert Torres came home in 1977 with the letters “SF” tattooed on his left hand, his horror-struck mother, Frances Hernandez, asked him why on earth he’d gone and “marked [himself] for life.”

In fact, the story of eBay’s early days is partly about the perils of market transactions and how they undermine the fundamentalist vision of markets as the answer to all the world’s problems. They’re insights that are worth keeping in mind today, for internet commerce participants and entrepreneurs alike. But whatever problems eBay and others encountered initially, the tinkerers and innovators of Silicon Valley did prevail. While asymmetric information—when the seller knows more than the buyer—complicates the job of turning the economy into an internet bazaar, eBay and its e-commerce brethren have found many ways to get the market to work reasonably well. And as we’ll see, their successes have provided economists with yet more fodder for their model building and experiments—often from within the companies themselves.


pages: 370 words: 102,823

Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth by Michael Jacobs, Mariana Mazzucato

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3D printing, balance sheet recession, banking crisis, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business climate, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collaborative economy, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Detroit bankruptcy, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, endogenous growth, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, facts on the ground, fiat currency, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, forward guidance, full employment, G4S, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, very high income

Senior’s 1836 An Outline of the Science of Political Economy, London, Richard Griffin & Co. 21 For a recent application of this argument in defence of inequality, see N. G. Mankiw, ‘Defending the one percent’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 27, no. 3, Summer 2013, pp. 21–34. 22 I recognised this early in my own work on information asymmetries, in a major controversy with Steven N. S. Cheung over whether the institution of sharecropping (which I argued could be explained by information asymmetries) mattered (see J. E. Stiglitz, ‘Incentives and risk sharing in sharecropping’, The Review of Economic Studies, vol. 41, no. 2, 1974, pp. 219–55 and S. Cheung, ‘Transaction costs, risk aversion and the choice of contractual arrangements’, Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 19, no. 1, 1969).

The orthodox model understands that markets do not always work well. It therefore uses the concept of ‘market failure’ to explain why suboptimal outcomes occur and how they can be improved. Markets fail under various circumstances: when firms have monopolistic power which restricts competition; when there are information asymmetries between producers and consumers; when there are ‘externalities’ or impacts on third parties which are not properly reflected in market prices; and where public and common goods exist whose benefits cannot be captured by individual producers or consumers.36 The propensity of real-world markets to fail in these various ways means that ‘free’ markets do not maximise welfare.

Chief among these is that markets generally produce positive outcomes which increase welfare, and should therefore be allowed to operate without much interference wherever possible. A basic regulatory framework of employment, consumer and environmental protection is required to correct for clear externalities and information asymmetries; but governments should not seek to direct markets or shape the businesses which operate in them. The ‘invisible hand’ of the market knows best, generating the highest welfare-producing activities where firms seek to maximise value for their shareholders. Even where the market might seem to get it wrong, governments cannot presume to know better.


pages: 586 words: 159,901

Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, publication bias, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, selection bias, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

This greatly complicates the mainstream notion of prices as a signaling mechanism for balancing supply and demand; there may be lots of noise mixed in with the signals. As they say on Wall Street, when something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Or as one of the major figures in the development of information asymmetry theory, Joseph Stiglitz, put it, "If it's such a good idea, why are you telling me, instead of investing your own money?" (quoted in Kane 1993). This is a remarkably blunt statement for Stiglitz, whose normal mode is the symbols of pure mathematized theory. Interest in "information asymmetry" is usually traced to George Akerlof s 1969 paper on the "lemons" problem — not the fruit, but bum autos. Would-be buyers of used cars have no way of knowing whether the vehicle they're contemplating is any good.

In contrast, Japanese executives ranked share price increases as the least important of the nine objectives." This is no mere cultural difference, but a reflection of the contrasting systems under which the two nations' managers operate. Stein's analysis is related to a branch of economics that sprouted during the 1980s from seeds planted in the 1970s — the study of information asymmetry. Since a party to a transaction can never know if the other is telling the truth, each has to be at least a little suspicious of the other. But protective actions resulting from such suspicions may leave both parties worse off than they would have been had both parties been honest and trusting.

While it's not clear whether that U.S. outperformance is a permanent thing or just a shorter-term cyclical affair, it can't be denied that the old Axis powers experienced extraordinary growth in investment and income during the first 45 years after Wodd War II's end. It may be that as capitalist economies mature, and liquid balances swell, they may tend toward a more fluid style of finance and ownership. irrational expectations Information asymmetry theorists generally assume that market participants are the rational self-maximizers of mainstream theory; they can just never be certain of the knowledge and motives of their counterparts. As Robert Gordon said of the closely related New Keynesian school, "any attempt to build a model based on irrational behavior or submaximizing behavior is viewed as cheating" (quoted in Dymski 1994).


The Blockchain Alternative: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Theory by Kariappa Bheemaiah

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, balance sheet recession, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, cellular automata, central bank independence, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, constrained optimization, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, deskilling, Diane Coyle, discrete time, distributed ledger, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, inventory management, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, large denomination, liquidity trap, London Whale, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nikolai Kondratiev, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, precariat, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, QR code, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Real Time Gross Settlement, rent control, rent-seeking, Satoshi Nakamoto, Satyajit Das, savings glut, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, supply-chain management, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Great Moderation, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Washington Consensus

Banks realize that in a situation of distress, they are underwritten and likely to be supported by the United States government and the governments of Europe (Freeman, 2011 ). As a result, they tend to structure themselves along similar lines and this causes a herd mentality that reduces the diversity of behavior, notably when dealing with risk. Second, there is information asymmetry within the banking networks as banks do not share their information with each other. Thus the tools, such as the aforementioned stress tests and Living Wills, being developed to reconstruct the network and estimate systemic risk, are done using partial amounts of publicly available information.

A simple, secure swap then takes place, allowing Transferwise to execute the transfer up to 89% cheaper than with a bank (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ money/transferwise/how-does-it-work-and-is-it-safe/). 21 61 Chapter 2 ■ Fragmentation of Finance underwriting process is often not integrative of the due diligence process and often involves depending on third-party providers, it leads to duplication of efforts, additional costs to the investors, and information asymmetries owing to the siloed structure of the entire operation. However, companies like Kabbage are showing us that via the use of Big Data analyses, these steps can be automated. Based on the digital footprint of the company, the lending institution can use advanced analytics to perform its due diligence with a better understanding of the risk involved, with a higher level of transparency, and with less manual intervention at higher speeds.

Big data also allows the analysis of other attributes of financial information, which allows investors to gain a more holistic understanding of the company’s character. Using smart contracts, this automated due diligence can then be leveraged to automate the underwriting process, which reduces execution time and reduces the number of supplementary intermediaries that are currently employed, thus reducing operational risks and information asymmetries. The P2P lending sector is already making strides in this direction to connect savers and lenders. Companies like MoneyCircles connect savers with borrowers who are part of their social circles. Lenders can create or join circles based on their Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn networks and loan money based on their criteria.


pages: 478 words: 126,416

Other People's Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People? by John Kay

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, Irish property bubble, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, market design, millennium bug, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, Yom Kippur War

Moral hazard in its application to the banking system is the well-founded concern that, if there is an expectation of government assistance for troubled financial businesses, the people who run and trade with these businesses will behave in ways that make the need for such assistance more likely. In Michel Albert’s Swiss village, community pressures handled the problems of information asymmetry, adverse selection and moral hazard. Information asymmetry was reduced, though not necessarily eliminated, by geographical proximity and personal ties. The obligation to participate was informed by the link between economic and social life, and for most it was no obligation at all. Some people were better guardians of their herds than others, some shirked their responsibilities, and others discharged them more than conscientiously, but these differences were ignored in the interests of maintaining a harmonious community.

The ‘Greenspan doctrine’ regards the exchange of risk as similar to the exchange of milk and coffee: the effect of the trade is to ‘allocate (risk) to those investors most able and willing to take it’.11 But three centuries after Colbert, a different strand of thought in modern economics revives the notion that trade is tricky by stressing ‘information asymmetry’ – people trade because they have different knowledge, or different perceptions of the same knowledge. These two approaches to thinking about trade in risk have a long history. Michel Albert, a French economist turned insurance company boss, offered an entertaining account of the development of the global insurance market in the eighteenth century.

Some people were better guardians of their herds than others, some shirked their responsibilities, and others discharged them more than conscientiously, but these differences were ignored in the interests of maintaining a harmonious community. Insurance markets exist for risks that involve a substantial degree of randomness – which reduces the problem of information asymmetry, and where the insured has limited influence over the incidence of risk – which reduces the effect of moral hazard. We can insure against car accidents, against our house burning down, against dying prematurely or against living too long. But these perils represent only a fraction of the risks that we face every day – and our ability to insure against even these is jeopardised by the everincreasing capacity to assemble and analyse large data sets which may enable us to predict illness and death from genetic and environmental information.


pages: 187 words: 55,801

The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market by Frank Levy, Richard J. Murnane

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Atul Gawande, call centre, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deskilling, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Gunnar Myrdal, hypertext link, index card, information asymmetry, job automation, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, pattern recognition, profit motive, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, talking drums, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, working poor

However, since motivation is another attribute that employers cannot measure with pencil-and-paper tests, IBM and its competitors cannot reliably assess job applicants’ motivation. IBM’s reputation for high-quality management training attracts to the firm highly motivated individuals who welcome the challenge of improving their skills by participating in well-designed, rigorous training programs. Thus, because of information asymmetry and self-selection, IBM’s strong training programs help the firm to attract and retain skilled managers.6 The IBM and Cisco cases illustrate that large, successful companies believe they can teach the skills needed to excel at complex communication and expert thinking tasks. The cases also show that technology is 130 CHAPTER 7 not a substitute for face-to-face classroom interactions in some critical parts of the learning process.

This, however, can be only part of the answer since the expensive part of Basic Blue is the week in Armonk that focuses on improving participants’ skills in managing complex personal interactions. These skills are valued not only by IBM, but also by its competitors. Economic theorists have shown that the answer to this puzzle rests in part on asymmetric information. In the hiring process, it is difficult to identify people who are skilled at complex communication. Scores on pencil-and-paper tests don’t provide the needed information, which is why neither IBM nor its competitors can identify those job applicants who are skilled at complex communication.

.: National Academy Press, 2002), 127–57. 5. As discussed later, the community server also keeps track of students’ grades on chapter tests and the semester examination, eliminating the bookkeeping activities that consume a great deal of time for most teachers. 6. For rich discussions of the asymmetric information and self-selection ideas, see Daron Acemoglu and Jorn-Steffan Pischke, “Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labour Markets,” Economic Journal 109, no. 453 (February 1999): F112–42; and David Autor, “Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?” Quarterly Journal of Economics 116, no. 4 (November 2001): 1409–48.


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The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, declining real wages, deskilling, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, framing effect, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, jobless men, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, lone genius, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, obamacare, offshore financial centre, paper trading, Pareto efficiency, patent troll, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

It was the eighth-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history and the biggest failure by a securities firm since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for Chapter 11 in September 2008. 10. While there may be some debate about when taking advantage of information asymmetries is unethical (reflected in the maxim “caveat emptor,” putting the obligation on the buyer to beware of the possibility of information asymmetries), there is no doubt that the banks stepped over the line. See the discussion in later chapters over the large fines paid by the banks for practices that were fraudulent and deceptive. 11. This predatory behavior took a number of forms.

Hoff, “Market Failures and the Distribution of Wealth: A Perspective from the Economics of Information,” Politics and Society 24, no. 4 (1996): 411–32; and Hoff, “The Second Theorem of the Second Best,” Journal of Public Economics 25 (1994): 223–42. 55. The exciting story is told in the bestseller by Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (New York: Walker, 1995). 56. Technically, the problems with incentive pay arise when there are information asymmetries. The employer doesn’t fully know the quality of the products produced by the worker (otherwise, he would specify that). In a trial, the judge and jury worry that the strength of an expert’s opinion might be affected if his compensation depended on the outcome of the trial. 57. Given this, one might ask, why are those in finance, supposedly experts in economics, so wedded to these distortionary incentive schemes.

Propublica maintained an active media oversight of the aftermath of the BP spill, including corruption in the clean-up process. See http://www.propublica.org/topic/gulf-oil-spill/. 5. R. H. Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics 3 (1960): 1–44. 6. This is especially the case when there are information asymmetries—where one party has easier access to information. If one group has less information about the harm than another (a common situation), then the more informed is in a better position to avoid the harm. Other market imperfections can also affect the efficiency of alternative assignments of property rights.


pages: 369 words: 128,349

Beyond the Random Walk: A Guide to Stock Market Anomalies and Low Risk Investing by Vijay Singal

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3Com Palm IPO, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, capital asset pricing model, correlation coefficient, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, endowment effect, fixed income, index arbitrage, index fund, information asymmetry, liberal capitalism, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, market friction, market microstructure, mental accounting, merger arbitrage, Myron Scholes, new economy, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, selection bias, Sharpe ratio, short selling, survivorship bias, transaction costs, Vanguard fund

The third reason proceeds from investor recognition. An increase in investor awareness, for example, can affect the stock price in several ways. First, the firm’s operating performance may improve because of increased monitoring by investors and by enhanced access to capital markets. Second, the firm’s liquidity may improve due to less information asymmetry as a result of greater production of information by investors and analysts. IMPERFECT SUBSTITUTES The imperfect-substitutes argument relies on the concurrent growth in indexing and the price impact of changes to the S&P 500. There is a permanent price increase for firms added to the S&P 500 index (see Table 8.1).

Another explanation for the abnormal performance is a reduction in asymmetry of information between the management and investors. When a company operates in a single segment, external earnings and performance estimates are more accurate than when a company operates in multiple segments. A reduction in information asymmetry means that there is less risk and, therefore, the stock price is higher. 313 314 Beyond the Random Walk References for Further Reading Abarbanell, Jeffrey S., Brian J. Bushee, and Jana Smith Raedy. 2003. Institutional Investor Preferences and Price Pressure: The Case of Corporate Spin-offs.

Capital Structure in Corporate Spinoffs. Journal of Business, forthcoming. Johnson, Shane A., Daniel P. Klein, and Verne L. Thibodeaux. 1996. The Effects of Spin-Offs on Corporate Investment and Performance. Journal of Financial Research 19(2), 293–307. Krishnaswami, Sudha, and Venkat Subramanian. 1999. Information Asymmetry, Valuation, and the Corporate Spin-off Decision. Journal of Financial Economics 53, 73–112. Maxwell, William, and Ramesh P. Rao. 2003. Do Spin-offs Expropriate Wealth from Bondholders? Journal of Finance, forthcoming. McConnell, John, M. Ozbilgin, and Sunil Wahal. 2001. Spin-offs, Ex Ante.


pages: 466 words: 127,728

The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, complexity theory, computer age, credit crunch, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, G4S, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, jitney, John Meriwether, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Lao Tzu, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market design, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, reserve currency, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, Stuxnet, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, working-age population, yield curve

In an extreme case, there might be no market at all for used cars because buyers and sellers are too far apart on price, even though there would theoretically be a market-clearing price if both sides to the transaction knew all the facts. Used cars are just one illustration of the asymmetric information problem, which can apply to a vast array of goods and services, including financial transactions. Interestingly, gold does not suffer this problem because it has a uniform grade. Absent fraud, there are no “lemons” when it comes to gold bars. A touchstone for economists since 1970, Akerlof’s work has been applied to numerous problems. The implications of his analysis are profound. If communication can be improved, and information asymmetries reduced, markets become more efficient and perform their price discovery functions more smoothly, reducing costs to consumers.

This inquiry involves imperfect information or information asymmetry: a situation in which one party has superior information to another that induces suboptimal behavior by both parties. This field took flight with a 1970 paper by George Akerlof, “The Market for ‘Lemons,’” that chose used car sales as an example to make its point. Akerlof was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 in part for this work. The seller of a used car, he states, knows perfectly well whether the car runs smoothly or is of poor quality, a “lemon.” The buyer does not know; hence an information asymmetry arises between buyer and seller.

But uncertainty caused by the Fed’s policy flip-flops makes the discount rate difficult to ascertain and causes employers to reduce or delay hiring. In effect, the Fed’s efforts to stimulate the economy are actually retarding it. Free markets matter not because of ideology but because of efficiency; they are imperfect, yet they are better than the next best thing. Akerlof illustrates the costs of information asymmetry at one point in time, while Bernanke shows the costs of information uncertainty over time. Both are correct about these theoretical costs, but both ignore the full costs of trying to fix the problem with government intervention. Akerlof was at least humble about these limitations, while Bernanke exhibited a central planner’s hubris throughout his career.


pages: 293 words: 88,490

The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction by Richard Bookstaber

asset allocation, bank run, bitcoin, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, dark matter, disintermediation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, epigenetics, feminist movement, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Henri Poincaré, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, market microstructure, money market fund, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk/return, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sovereign wealth fund, the map is not the territory, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing machine, Turing test, yield curve

If we are going to use the analogy of war in economics and finance, the battlefield where Boyd’s dictum most applies is the realm of information. One tactic in this battlefield is to create informational asymmetries. If the market is becoming efficient, if information is immediately accessible to everyone at the same time, then either create new private information or else speed up your access to the public information. Derivatives play a role in the first approach, with investment banks such as Goldman Sachs creating information asymmetries by constructing financial instruments such as credit default swaps that they understand better than the buyers. For the second approach, consider the news feeds that are pushed to high-frequency traders with millisecond response times.

See also MGonz Iceland, 11 IKB, 165 imperfect knowledge economics, 175. See also Frydman, Roman; Goldberg, Michael impossibility theorem, 53, 55–57 (see also Gödel, Kurt); implications for limits to knowledge, 51; proof of, 199 induction, 15, 180–184; and crises, 184 Industrial Revolution, 5–6, 188 informational asymmetries, 120 informational irreducibility, 109–111 Institute for New Economic Thinking, 89 insurance companies, 131 International Monetary Fund, 11 Jagger, Mick, 45 Jevons, William Stanley, 3, 91; and cryptography, 7; and the development of marginal utility, 7; The Principles of Science, 7; and the representative agent, 82; studies at University College, 6; and sunspots, 8–11; The Theory of Political Economy, 6–7; and the three-body problem, 28–29; and travels to Australia, 6 Kahneman, Daniel, 45–47 Kay, John, 3 Keynes, John Maynard, 38, 84–85, 173, 183 Knightian uncertainty, 50 Kuhn, Thomas; and crisis science, 91; and differing paradigms argument, 107; and normal science, 58, 91, 178 Kundera, Milan, 12, 116; and eternal recurrence, 41; and planet of inexperience, 60–61; The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 41, 60–61 (see also Unbearable Lightness of Being, The) Lakatos, Imre, 91 Laplace, Pierre-Simon, 56–57 Lee, Bruce, 120–121 Lehman Brothers, 11, 14 Leibniz, Gotfried Wilhelm, 109, 116 leverage, 15, 139–141, 143; and the financial crisis of 2008, 156 (see also financial crisis of 2008); and regulation, 156 Lewis, Michael, 185 Library of Babel, 61–63, 123; as Arrow-Debreu world, 63; and computational irreducibility, 62–64; and the Conway’s Game of Life, 123; and the limits of knowledge, 62–63 (see also limits of knowledge); map versus territory and, 64 (see also map versus territory); and radical uncertainty, 63, 123–125 limits of knowledge, 177; and complexity, 111; and fallibility, 123, 183; and use of heuristics, 86; and limits to modeling, 177; in self-referential systems, 51–56 liquidity, 48, 139–141, 143; and crisis dynamics, 151–154; and demand, 144–147, 151–155, 186; and dynamics, 144; and the financial crisis of 2008, 156 (see also financial crisis of 2008); and heterogenous decision cycles, 152–154; interaction with, 152–154; and leverage, 151–154; and margin calls, 151–153; and the market makers, 152–155; and regulation, 156; and supply, 144–147, 151–155, 186 Long-term Capital Management (LTCM), 112–113 Lucas, Robert, 3, 13, 89, 105; and ergodicity, 42 Lukmanier electric line, 133 Luria, Alexsander, 76–77 Lynch, Merrill, 162–163, 166 Madame Bovary, 116.

One feature of the agent-based modeling approach is that making such adjustments is integral to the fabric of the model. This stands in contrast to the deductive approach, where changes at a minimum need to rework the intricately balanced mathematical structure, and at worst require resetting the underlying axioms. Even economic models with asymmetric information or with the body English of behavioral assumptions do not accept the limits to knowledge that prevent us from laying out the model until it is run. Yet, people need to know the model, some model, and solve it for an optimization, perhaps constrained in some way, in order to determine how to act.9 Problems emerge for economics from the human characteristic of being the children of our experiences, both experiences in the past and the hazy prospects of future experiences.

State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century by Francis Fukuyama

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Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, centre right, corporate governance, demand response, Doha Development Round, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, Hernando de Soto, information asymmetry, liberal world order, Live Aid, Nick Leeson, Pareto efficiency, Potemkin village, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, structural adjustment programs, technology bubble, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system

The problem in Russia and other postcommunist countries was somewhat different. The privatization of state-owned enterprises is of course an appropriate goal of economic reform, but it requires a substantial degree of institutional capacity to implement properly. Privatization inevitably creates huge information asymmetries, and it is the job of governments to correct them. Assets and ownership rights have to be properly identified, valued, and transferred transparently; the rights of new minority shareholders have to be protected to prevent asset-stripping, tunneling, and other abuses. Thus, while privatization involves a reduction in the scope of state functions, it requires functioning markets and a high degree of state capacity to implement.

Open-ended employment contracts and authority relationships permitted more flexible adjustment to unforeseen future states of the world. In addition, market efficiency rests on the existence of a large number of market participants in competition with one another. But large numbers tend to turn into small numbers in many specialized contracting situations, allowing contractors to take advantage of asymmetric information. Again, the solution was to bring these activities within the boundaries of the hierarchy through vertical integration. Economics put its distinctive stamp on organizational theory, however, when it began to import its own individualistic behavioral assumptions inside the boundaries of the firm.


pages: 346 words: 90,371

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd, Laurie Macfarlane, John Muellbauer

agricultural Revolution, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bretton Woods, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, deindustrialization, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, garden city movement, George Akerlof, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, land tenure, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, mortgage debt, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, place-making, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, working poor, working-age population

II). 4 Of course land prices can also fall as economies deteriorate and indeed when an economic shock hits land prices can fall more rapidly than economic growth – further explored in Chapter 5. 5 The classical economists were building on a long tradition: ancient civilisations taxed land and property for thousands of years before consumption, income or corporation taxes were invented (Blöchliger, 2015, p. 6). 6 Rent extraction may also overshoot and capture even more than the true change in land values because of information asymmetries and price stickiness. For example, there is evidence that landlords do not lower rents when economic growth declines or when their costs fall (for example with interest rate cuts that reduce their mortgage payments). However, when their costs increase (e.g. tax changes) they insist they have to pass on the cost to tenants. 7 See Orbanes (2007) for a detailed historical account of the game. 8 See Gaffney (1994, pp. 35–39) for a description of the legacy of Henry George. 9 Lloyd George’s ‘People’s Budget’ of 1909 proposed to introduce a 20% land tax (see Chapter 4, section 4.3). 10 For a detailed account of the development of neoclassical economics’ concept of capital from a pro-Georgist perspective, see Gaffney (1994b).

We hope that the arguments presented thus far will be enough to convince readers that a libertarian, free-market-orientated approach to the land problem makes little sense. Because legal frameworks are essential for land to become property at all, any analysis of the land problem that starts from the premise of minimising state involvement cannot succeed. There can never be an entirely free market in landed property. The complex drivers, time lags and information asymmetries inherent in the property market strongly suggest that there can be no self-correcting equilibrium in landownership or land values, as envisaged in neoclassical economic theory. This is supported by the historical record, which is one of consistent booms and busts, or financial cycles (Anderson, 2009; Borio, 2014; Kindleberger and Aliber, 2005).

Proponents of these so-called ‘dynamic stochastic general equilibrium’ models argued that, unlike an older generation of models, they were properly ‘micro-founded’ on optimising behaviour at the level of individual households and firms. To the book’s diagnosis of how this came about, I would add a failure to use correct micro-foundations that took into account the asymmetric information revolution initiated by George Akerlof, Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz, and the research of Angus Deaton and Christopher Carroll on how households behave when facing uncertainty and liquidity constraints.2 The global financial crisis has highlighted the mistake made by most of the macroeconomics profession and central banks in not incorporating asset prices, including property prices, credit and household balance sheets more generally in their models and their understanding.


pages: 356 words: 103,944

The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy by Dani Rodrik

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, full employment, George Akerlof, guest worker program, Hernando de Soto, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, night-watchman state, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, open economy, Paul Samuelson, price stability, profit maximization, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, savings glut, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, tulip mania, Washington Consensus, World Values Survey

Stiglitz won a Nobel Prize in 2001 (along with George Akerlof and Mike Spence) for theoretical work showing how “asymmetric information” distorts incentives in a wide range of markets. If you know more than I do about the value of what you are selling me—whether it is your used car, your labor, or your debt—then we’re in for a troubled relationship. Prices in such transactions tend to provide the wrong signals. Many trades that should not happen do, while others that should happen don’t. Many of the pathologies of financial markets—boom-and-bust cycles, financial panics, lack of access to credit by otherwise creditworthy borrowers—can be explained by information asymmetries of this type (often interacting with other market distortions).

If the answer is not an unqualified yes to these and a multitude of other similar questions, financial markets will fail. Unfortunately, such failings are legion, which is why we have become so accustomed to the financial market pathologies they produce. Economists are not unaware of these problems. The economics literature is chockful of analyses of these failings, which go by names such as asymmetric information, limited liability, moral hazard, agency costs, multiple equilibria, systemic risk, implicit guarantees, information cascades, and so on. Each one of these phenomena has been studied to death with intricate mathematical reasoning and empirical illustrations. By now most economists also understand that these problems have not been adequately addressed in the global economy.


pages: 354 words: 92,470

Grave New World: The End of Globalization, the Return of History by Stephen D. King

9 dash line, Admiral Zheng, air freight, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bilateral investment treaty, bitcoin, blockchain, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, income per capita, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Long Term Capital Management, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, old age dependency ratio, paradox of thrift, Peace of Westphalia, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Skype, South China Sea, special drawing rights, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, trade liberalization, trade route, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

By reducing the cost of information – and by creating global online ‘hubs’ like Alibaba and Amazon, where buyers and sellers can ‘virtually’ meet one another – the global marketplace should expand, competition should intensify and pricing should become more transparent. All in all, the allocation of resources should improve, leaving output higher, prices lower and everyone – other than inefficient rent-seeking companies – happier. Yet this argument assumes that technology only works by reducing barriers to entry, limiting information asymmetries and encouraging price discovery. That’s much too narrow a view. Technology also fundamentally alters production techniques and hugely skews the distribution of income and wealth. In both cases, technology can be enormously damaging to globalization. The decision on where to locate production facilities ultimately depends on a trade-off between the forces of dispersion and agglomeration.

They weren’t outsiders looking in on a Minsky world: they were, collectively, very much part of that world.14 UNDERMINING THE NEW WISDOM The financial crisis was not, however, a story about euphoria alone. It stemmed from a combination of factors, each of which challenged what had become conventional thinking over the previous three decades. Markets themselves were failing, thanks in part to asymmetric information: the ultimate investors in US sub-prime mortgages were often blissfully unaware of the risks they were taking, largely because the underlying nature of their risky investments was typically camouflaged through the copious use of collateralized debt obligations and other innovative financial ‘disguises’.15 Incentives were badly skewed: those who made commission from selling risky products were typically able to pass the risk on to others – often thousands of miles away – using ‘pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap’ tactics.

King, The End of Alchemy: Money, banking and the future of the global economy, Little, Brown, London, 2016. 13.Sherman McCoy, the protagonist in Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, is a Wall Street trader whose life goes horribly wrong just when it seemed to be going so well: he was a self-styled Master of the Universe. 14.For a discussion of the effects of dysfunctional belief systems, see R. Hausmann, ‘Through the Venezuelan looking glass’, Project Syndicate, August 2016, available at: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/venezuela-destructive-belief-systems-by-ricardo-hausmann-2016-08 15.The classic article on asymmetric information is George Akerlof, ‘The market for lemons: Quality, uncertainty and the market mechanism’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 84:3 (1970), pp. 488–500. 16.See, for example, E. Passari and H. Rey, Financial Flows and the International Monetary System, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 21172, Cambridge, MA, May 2015. 17.The pre-2000 figures come from M.


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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Satyajit Das, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Everybody now relied on someone else to do their risk analysis. William Heyman, former head of market regulation at the US SEC, observed: “In manufacturing, the market price is set by the smartest guy with the best, cheapest production process. In securities markets, the price is set by the dumbest guy with the most money to lose.”16 Figure 17.4. Information asymmetries in securitization Source: Adapted from BIS Committee on the Global Financial System. Paper Chains These risk chains relied on voluminous documents, which only lawyers read but without necessarily understanding what was going on. As became apparent later, the legal basis for some transactions was also flawed.

See also investment banks Iania, Leonardo, 126 IBM, 244 Icahn, Carl, 137, 146 Iceland, 279, 345 collapse of banking system, 275 stock market, 84 Ideal Husband, The, 53 IFIL Investments, 222 Ikebe, Yukiko, 40 illiquid markets, 287 Immelt, Jeffrey, 63, 344 imports from China, 85 income, annuities, 70 increase in borrowing levels, 265-268 incubators, 247, 254 independent contracting, 181 indexed gold put options (IGPOs), 216 India, 22 gold in, 27 rupees, 21-22 individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 48 industrialization, 38 inflation, 49, 145 after fall of the Berlin Wall, 101 effect on conglomerates, 60 hyperinflation, 22 in Zimbabwe, 22 information asymmetries in securitization, 271 determining from noise, 125-127 transparency, 283 infrastructure, 124 innovation, 77 innovative debt structures. See debt Inside Job, The, 316, 353 insolvency, 280 Institute of Theoretical Physics (Copenhagen, Denmark), 101 insurance bonds, 176 life, securitization of, 178 prices, 209.

., Fred, 243 Science Museum (London), 351 Scion Funds, 256 Scissors, Derek, 350 Seabright, Paul, 35 Seagram, 79 Second World War, 84, 102 Secret of FX, The, 40 Secret, The, 45 Secrets of Wealth, 96 Securities, exotic products, 73-74 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 131 Securities Exchange Company, 34 Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma), 213 securitization, 68, 169, 188, 207 adjusted rate mortgages (ARMs), 183-184 bonds, 173 central banks, 281-282 chain reaction in markets, 202-204 of debt, 188-192 failure of bonds, 204-205 housing market, 179-182 information asymmetries in, 271 of intellectual property rights, 168 of life insurance policies, 178 models, 177 rating agencies, 282 regulators understanding of, 282 risks, 170, 172 security, trading, 66 self-employment, 181 self-regulating markets, 102 selling, 311 senior debt, 148 senior management, knowledge of business operations, 292-293 senior tranches, 171 Sentamu, John, 346 seppuku, ritualized suicide, 200 September 11, 2001, 44 September, 2008 market crash, 341-343 sequential tranching, 178 Serin, Casey, 187 setsuyaku no tatsujin (master penny-pincher), 39 sewer bonds, 214.


pages: 222 words: 70,132

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, 3D printing, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

The false democracy that places art and random uploads side by side has, I believe, led too many to believe that art is easy to make and therefore not valuable. As James DeLong said, “Google can continue to do well even if it leaves providers of its [content] gasping like fish on a beach.” Once upon a time a critic such as Pauline Kael or Greil Marcus could help me navigate this information asymmetry, driving interest in work they deemed to be of quality. The hegemony of the blockbuster in music, books, and film allows marketers to bypass critics, rendering them almost irrelevant to the process. Do you think the producer of Michael Bay’s Transformers spends one minute worrying about critics?

Researcher Sara Kingsley at the University of Massachusetts found real problems with the crowdwork model. A direct and limitless supply of labor and tasks should produce a perfectly competitive market; however, data collected from our yearlong study of crowdwork suggests that the reverse is true. Rife with asymmetric information problems, crowdsourcing labor markets are arguably not just imperfect, but imperfect by design. Kingsley found that Amazon could constantly lower the piecework price it paid on Mechanical Turk and that it was continually opening up new low-labor-cost countries, such as India, to the platform.


pages: 220 words: 73,451

Democratizing innovation by Eric von Hippel

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additive manufacturing, correlation coefficient, Debian, hacker house, informal economy, information asymmetry, inventory management, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Network effects, placebo effect, principal–agent problem, Richard Stallman, software patent, transaction costs, Vickrey auction

But what about manufacturers that specialize in custom products? Isn’t it their business to respond to special requests? To understand which way the innovate-or-buy choice will go, one must consider both transaction costs and information asymmetries specific to users and manufacturers. I will talk mainly about transaction costs in this chapter and mainly about information asymmetries in chapter 5. I begin this chapter by discussing four specific and significant transaction costs that affect users’ innovate-or-buy decisions. Next I review a case study that illustrates these. Then, I use a simple quantitative model to further explore when user firms will find it more cost-effective to develop a solution—a new product or service—for themselves rather than hiring a manufacturer to solve the problem for them.

That is, the color of the circuit boards in the user factory became an item the problem solvers needed to know only when engineers, in the course of their development of the component placer, decided to use a vision system in the component-placing machine they were designing, and the fact that the boards were yellow became relevant only when the engineers chose a video camera and lighting that could not distinguish the metalized patterns on the board against a yellow background. Clearly, it can be costly to transfer the many items of information that a product or service developer might require—even if each individual item has low stickiness—from one site to another. How Information Asymmetries Affect User Innovation vs. Manufacturer Innovation An important consequence of information stickiness is that it results in information asymmetries that cannot be erased easily or cheaply. Different users and manufacturers will have different stocks of information, and may find it costly to acquire information they need but do not have. As a result, each innovator will tend to develop innovations that draw on the sticky information it already has, because that is the cheapest course of action (Arora and Gambardella 1994; von Hippel 1994).

Conversely he found that increased stickiness of technology-related information was associated in a significant reduction in the amount of technology design done by the user (Kendall correlation coefficients = 0.4789, P < 0.05). In other words, need-intensive tasks within product-development projects will tend to be done by users, while solutionintensive ones will tend to be done by manufacturers. Low-Cost Innovation Niches Just as there are information asymmetries between users and manufacturers as classes, there are also information asymmetries among individual user firms and individuals, and among individual manufacturers as well. A study of mountain biking by Lüthje, Herstatt, and von Hippel (2002) shows that information held locally by individual user-innovators strongly affects the type of innovations they develop.


pages: 421 words: 110,406

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--And How to Make Them Work for You by Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall W. van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, buy low sell high, chief data officer, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, data is the new oil, digital map, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, Haber-Bosch Process, High speed trading, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, market design, Metcalfe’s law, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pre–internet, price mechanism, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game, Zipcar

If you can’t find an item you want on eBay, then a good interaction has failed to occur. If you did find an item you wanted but got cheated, abused, or deceived, then a bad interaction has occurred. In general, there are four main causes of market failures: information asymmetry, externalities, monopoly power, and risk. Information asymmetry arises whenever one party to an interaction knows facts that other parties don’t and uses that knowledge for personal advantage. Consider the problem of counterfeit goods, when the seller knows that the goods are fake but does not inform the buyer. Fakes account for Skullcandy headphones with lousy sound quality, Gucci handbags with broken stitching, Duracell batteries that don’t hold a charge, OtterBox mobile phone cases that are not drop-proof, and Viagra that provides no lift.

The single most heavily cited article on corporate governance is a literature survey that considers only “the ways in which suppliers of finance to corporations assure themselves of getting a return on their investment.”17 The focus here is on the information asymmetry arising from the separation of ownership and control—a critical element of governance design, but far from sufficient.18 Information asymmetry between the community of users and the firm also matters, and their interests too must be aligned. Additionally, platform governance rules must pay special heed to externalities. These are endemic in network markets, since, as we’ve seen when examining network effects, the spillover benefits users generate are a source of platform value.

Many platform managers choose governance principles that favor themselves over their users. Yet platforms that respect their users more can expect more from their users—with benefits ultimately accruing to all. Governance will always be imperfect. Whatever the rules, partners will find new forms of private advantage. There will always be information asymmetries and externalities. Interactions lead to complications, which lead to interventions, which lead to new complications. Indeed, if good governance allows third parties to innovate, then, as they create new sources of value, they will simultaneously create new struggles to control that value.


pages: 288 words: 16,556

Finance and the Good Society by Robert J. Shiller

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Alvin Roth, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market design, means of production, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Occupy movement, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, profit maximization, quantitative easing, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, self-driving car, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Vanguard fund, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

But, lacking the subsidy e ectively given by the U.S. government via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage securitization has not been common anywhere else.6 Before the crisis of 2007 nance theorists saw clear innovation in mortgage securitization. Securitized mortgages are, in the abstract, a way of solving an information asymmetry problem—more particularly the problem of “lemons.” This problem, rst given a theoretical explanation by George Akerlof, refers to the aversion many people have to buying anything on the used market, like a used car. They worry that they can’t judge whether the item has defects, and that they will get stuck with a lemon.

In much of the rest of the world, although there has been some limited attempt at mortgage securitization, investors have mostly held mortgages indirectly by owning shares in the mortgage originators. 7. Franco Modigliani and Merton Miller (1963) assumed that investors did not have to expend any resources to acquire information about the assets they invest in. George Akerlof shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics for a 1970 article that detailed how information asymmetry sometimes prevents markets from existing. 8. Akerlof (1970). 9. Hill (1997). 10. National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States (2011): 196. 11. Shiller (2008). 12. Davis (2006) and Caplin et al. (1997). Chapter 6. Traders and Market Makers 1. Montesquieu (1773 [1748]): Volume II, Book XX, Chapter II, p. 2. 2.

Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. New York: Modern Library. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1906 [1848]. Manifesto of the Communist Party. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co. Mayer, Colin. 1990. “Financial Systems, Corporate Finance, and Economic Development.” In R. Glenn Hubbard, ed., Asymmetric Information, Corporate Finance, and Investment, 307–32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Melamed, Leo. 2009. For Crying Out Loud: From Open Outcry to Electronic Screen. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Mian, Atif, and Amir Su . 2010. “Household Leverage and the Recession of 2007 to 2009.” IMF Economic Review 58:74–117.


pages: 545 words: 137,789

How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities by John Cassidy

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, asset allocation, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, Columbine, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, diversification, Elliott wave, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Haight Ashbury, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income per capita, incomplete markets, index fund, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, Landlord’s Game, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, mental accounting, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price discrimination, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, unorthodox policies, value at risk, Vanguard fund, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators, zero-sum game

But the modern theory of the invisible hand that Friedman and others promoted explains too much with too little. At its core, it says simply: self-interest plus competition equals nirvana. There is no mention in this equation of the institutions of modern capitalism, such as multinational corporations, derivatives markets, universal banks, and mutual funds. Information asymmetries, uncertainty, copycat behavior, network effects, and disaster myopia—the invisible hand metaphor abstracts from all of these awkward features of reality, too. Don’t worry, its defenders say, the market will take care of things. Just make sure that competition reigns, prevent the emergence of monopolies, and a good outcome is guaranteed.

He expressed his thoughts in clear English, used equations sparingly, and made little attempt to keep up with intellectual fashion. But what Minsky lacked in modernity, he more than made up for in insight. Although he rarely made explicit reference to concepts such as the prisoner’s dilemma, asymmetric information, or disaster myopia, his analysis displayed an acute awareness of the various sources of market failure. A keen student of Keynes’s Treatise on Probability as well as The General Theory, he had never accepted that financial markets aggregated economic data efficiently, or that decisions involving the future could be represented as a process of taking mathematical expectations of known probabilities.

American International Group (AIG) America Online (AOL) Ameriquest Mortgage Company Amherst College AMRESCO Amtrak “Anatomy of Market Failure, The” (Bator) Anderson, Martin anti-Semitism antitrust laws Apostles Apple Army, U.S. Air Corps Corps of Engineers ARPANET Arrow, Kenneth Arthur, W. Brian Arthur Andersen Asch, Solomon asset-backed securities (ABSs) Associates First Capital asymmetric information AT&T Atomic Energy Commission, U.S. Attlee, Clement Australia Axelrod, Robert Aylwin, Patricio Bachelier, Louis Bagehot, Walter Baker, James Bank of America Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Bankers’ Panic (1907) Bankers Trust Bank for International Settlements Baran, Paul Barclays Bank Barings Bank Barone, Enrico Barro, Robert Barron’s Bartlett, Bruce Bator, Francis Baumol, William Bayh-Dole Act (1984) B&C lending Bear Stearns Beatles Beauty Contest theory Bebchuk, Lucian Becker, Gary behavioral economics Bell Laboratories Beneficial Finance Bennett, Alan Bentham, Jeremy Berkshire Hathaway Inc.


pages: 442 words: 39,064

Why Stock Markets Crash: Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems by Didier Sornette

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Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, continuous double auction, currency peg, Deng Xiaoping, discrete time, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, Erdős number, experimental economics, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, full employment, global village, implied volatility, index fund, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, law of one price, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, mental accounting, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, oil shock, open economy, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, stochastic process, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, VA Linux, Y2K, yield curve

The phenomenon of “herding,” discussed at length in the remainder of this chapter, can also be considered an example of market failure, as it leads to important deviations from “fundamental” or “equilibrium” prices. This research has fertilized many novel approaches that are working out ways in which rational behavior could lead to less-than-optimal market outcomes. Another important step has been the introduction of so-called “information asymmetry,” which describes situations in which different parties to a transaction possess different amounts of information. Such “asymmetric information,” the fact that people are not equal with respect to the quality and quantity of information they use to make decisions, blossomed in the seventies as a way to explain the behavior of financial markets, which are indeed extremely susceptible to information difficulties.

This leads to a specific power law acceleration of the market price, providing our first predictive precursory pattern anticipating a crash. The imitation between agents leading to an accelerating crash hazard rate may result, for instance, from a progressive shift in the belief of investors about market liquidity, without invoking asymmetric information, and independently of the price behavior and its deviation from its fundamental value [132]. THE PRICE-DRIVEN MODEL The price-driven model inverts the logic of the previous risk-driven model: here, again as a result of the action of rational investors, the price is driving the crash hazard rate rather than the reverse.


pages: 280 words: 79,029

Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

You might think you are backing a high-earning computer programmer, but it turns out that your money is funding a low-earning chemistry teacher. The information asymmetry that all markets must grapple with is particularly great when it comes to investing in people: no investor can hope to understand the aspirations, integrity, and self-discipline of a young person like the young person himself. With a traditional loan, the asymmetry still exists, but the obligation to repay at least offers greater protection to the interests of the investor. Information asymmetry goes hand in hand with a problem known as “adverse selection.” Imagine that the year is 2003, and an investor decides to put her money into a promising young Harvard undergraduate named Mark Zuckerberg.

“Part of what went wrong over the long term was two things: computing power and the Greenspan consensus [named for Alan Greenspan, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve] that markets worked,” says the former employee. “The finance industry could slice, dice, and analyze information in ways they couldn’t before. Information was available, which meant markets could function properly. People thought information asymmetry was the problem, and now that problem was solved. Everyone thought they could price risk. That was an illusion: you have to know what you are looking at.” What the agencies—and the industry as a whole—should have been looking at was the probability of a national downturn in American housing prices.

A farmer might lock in a price for his crop via the futures market, hedging himself against a sharp fall in market prices. High-frequency trading: A trading strategy that is characterized by extreme speed. High-frequency traders pursue a variety of investment approaches, from following short-term price trends to making markets. Information asymmetry: When one party knows more about a transaction than the other. Companies with very short track records or people seeking health-insurance coverage will, for example, usually be better informed about their circumstances than a potential equity investor or an insurance provider. Leverage: The amount of debt that a borrower carries relative to equity.


pages: 298 words: 43,745

Understanding Sponsored Search: Core Elements of Keyword Advertising by Jim Jansen

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AltaVista, barriers to entry, Black Swan, bounce rate, business intelligence, butterfly effect, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, en.wikipedia.org, first-price auction, information asymmetry, information retrieval, intangible asset, inventory management, life extension, linear programming, megacity, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, PageRank, place-making, price mechanism, psychological pricing, random walk, Schrödinger's Cat, sealed-bid auction, search engine result page, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sentiment analysis, social web, software as a service, stochastic process, telemarketer, the market place, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, yield management

Our answer lies with the signaling theory and, when focusing specifically on search engine results, a concept known as information foraging theory. Signaling theory Research into consumer searching on the Web characteristically has an inherent assumption of information asymmetry. In other words, we are making the assumption that consumers search to even out an information imbalance. Otherwise, why would someone search (other than for entertainment) if not to correct an information imbalance? Information asymmetry is a characteristic in decision-making situations and transactions where one of the participants has more and/or better information than others engaged in the transaction.

Note that this was based on data from a particular search engine and set of sponsored-search efforts, so click potential for a given sponsored-search effort may vary. 78 Understanding Sponsored Search Table 4.3.╇ Changes in conversion potential by ad rank Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Click potential (%) Conversion rate (%) Conversion potential (%) Change in conversion potential (%) 100.0 59.8 47.5 39.0 34.8 31.3 24.0 20.0 15.3 13.9 100.0 91.1 75.1 72.4 69.3 71.9 67.6 64.9 72.3 87.7 100.0 54.5 35.7 28.2 24.1 22.5 16.2 13.0 11.1 12.2 – −46 −34 −21 −15 −7 −28 −20 −15 10 Perception Choice Set Ad Selection –The searcher must attend to the choice sets – Choices must rise above noise level – The number of choices affects the searcher’s selection time – Information scent is used for selection User Motivation and Awareness – Addressing information asymmetry – Reducing uncertainty Ad attributes – Signals are contained within the ad itself – Where the ad appears on the SERP is also a signal Ad – Ad is a guide post to take the potential consumer to the landing page – Searchers selects ads that reduce information asymmetry – Ads must contain relevant signals and placed where searchers notice them Figure 4.5.╇ Interactive process of searcher/potential customer and advertisement.

The first exposure is to gain consumers’ awareness. The second exposure is to show the relevance of the product. The third exposure is to show the benefits of the product. This is also related to wear-in and wear-out aspects of advertisements. Signaling theory states that in situations where there is information asymmetry, a signal credibly relays information about a product or service to the consumer. The basis of signaling theory comes from biology and economics, but it also can be applied to understand human communication. The more difficult it is for consumers to assess aspects of a product prior to purchase, the more likely they are to rely on more costly signals to form expectations about the suitability of a product [5].

The End of Accounting and the Path Forward for Investors and Managers (Wiley Finance) by Feng Gu

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active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Exxon Valdez, financial innovation, fixed income, hydraulic fracturing, index fund, information asymmetry, intangible asset, inventory management, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, moral hazard, new economy, obamacare, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, value at risk

One study (Arthur Kraft, Huai Zhang, and Renhui Fu, 2012, “Financial Reporting Frequency, Information Asymmetry, and the Cost of Equity,” Journal of Accounting and Economics, 54: 132–149) reports that quarterly statements enhance corporate transparency (investors’ information), but the main findings of this study come from comparing quarterly to annual reports. Our suggestion maintains semiannual reports. On the other hand, a research on Singaporean companies found: “ . . . mandatory quarterly reporting does not reduce information asymmetry . . . ” (Peter Kajüter, Florian Klassman, and Martin Nienhaus, Causal Effects of Quarterly Reporting—An Analysis of Benefits and Costs, working paper (University of Muenster, Abstract, 2015).)

Managers are privy, for example, to recent sales and cost trends, the progress of drugs or software products under development, customer defection rate (churn), new contracts signed, and emerging markets penetration rate, among many other important business developments. No information vendor, Internet chat room, or even a sophisticated analyst can provide investors such “inside” information. No advances in information technology and investors’ processing capacity (Edgar, XBRL) can overcome the fundamental information asymmetry—managers know more than THE BOOK IN A NUTSHELL xv investors—inherent to capital markets. You might not like it, but that’s how it is and will be. In fact, in subsequent chapters we provide empirical evidence suggesting that the quality of the overall information used by investors continuously deteriorates and share prices reveal less of companies’ value and future prospects.

Data must be organized (not originally collected; any well-run company has all the information we prescribe) and investors’ questions answered. It would be helpful, therefore, if these managerial efforts were rewarded; and, indeed, they are. The reward to managers and companies lies in the removal of the detrimental effects on companies of inadequate disclosure and lack of transparency—information asymmetry, in the economics jargon. Simply put, the fast-diminishing usefulness of financial information we documented isn’t good for companies and their managers, because it increases investors’ uncertainty about companies’ growth prospects, as we have shown in Chapter 6, and increased uncertainty translates directly into lower share prices and higher cost of capital.12 Indeed, extensive evidence links investors’ information uncertainty to share price decline and volatility increase, particularly for medium and small companies (thin institutional holdings, low analysts following), for which investors’ information is generally constrained.13 So, it’s obviously in managers’ best interest to responsibly enhance disclosure to arrest the diminishing usefulness of financial information.


pages: 137 words: 36,231

Information: A Very Short Introduction by Luciano Floridi

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, carbon footprint, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of writing, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, Pareto efficiency, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, RFID, Thomas Bayes, Turing machine, Vilfredo Pareto

Many games are based on incomplete information, with at least one player lacking information about at least one of the features (a)-(c). An interesting class of incomplete information games is based on the concept of asymmetric information. Asymmetric information Suppose we treat the interactions between John and his insurer, called Mark, as a game. We know that John is very absent-minded (he tends to forget to switch off the lights of his car) and not entirely trustworthy (he tends to lie and likes to blame his wife for his mistakes). Mark, however, does not have all this information about John. So this is a case of asymmetric information: one player has relevant information that the other player misses. Mark is underinformed, and this can lead to two well-known types of problems: moral hazard and adverse selection.

In Chapter 1, we saw how human society has come to depend, for its proper functioning and growth, on the management and exploitation of information processes. Unsurprisingly, in recent years the scientific study of economic information has bloomed. In 2001, George Akerlof (born 1940), Michael Spence (born 1943), and Joseph E. Stiglitz (born 1943) were awarded what is known as the Nobel Prize in Economics `for their analyses of markets with asymmetric information'. Indeed, information-theoretical approaches to economic topics have become so popular and pervasive that one may be forgiven for mistaking economics for a branch of information science. In the rest of this chapter, we will look at some essential ways in which economic information is used.

Mark will ask a higher premium from every customer because some of them will be like John. There arises a need for `good' players to inform the underinformed players about themselves (indicate their `types') and thus counterbalance the asymmetric relation. We have already encountered Spence and Stiglitz. Each of them developed an influential analysis of how asymmetric information might be overcome: signalling and screening, respectively. Signalling may be described in terms of derivative information (see Chapter 2): the informed player provides reliable information which derivatively indicates the player's type to the underinformed player. Since signalling has been hugely influential in the literature on contract theory, here is the textbook example, slightly adapted.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Even if differential pricing turns out to be rare, the key point is that it’s hard for ordinary people who interact with Siren Servers to get enough context to make the best decisions. If not differential pricing, then some other scheme will appear in order to take advantage of information asymmetry. After all, that is what information asymmetry is for. Waiting for Robin Hood You might expect a compensatory server to always magically appear on cue. Such a server might, for instance, perform cost comparisons so as to alert consumers to differential pricing or other hazards. Sometimes the Internet will indeed produce a service that does really help.

The more influential digital networks become, the more potential moral hazard we’ll see, unless we change the architecture. A First Pass at a Definition A Siren Server, as I will refer to such a thing, is an elite computer, or coordinated collection of computers, on a network. It is characterized by narcissism, hyperamplified risk aversion, and extreme information asymmetry. It is the winner of an all-or-nothing contest, and it inflicts smaller all-or-nothing contests on those who interact with it. Siren Servers gather data from the network, often without having to pay for it. The data is analyzed using the most powerful available computers, run by the very best available technical people.

The problem in question is known as the “Market for Lemons,” after the title of the famous paper, which helped earn its author, George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize13 in Economics. The lemons in the paper were not from the lemonade stand we encountered earlier, but were instead crummy used cars for sale. The paper detailed how a prevalence of bad used cars distorted markets through the mechanism of information asymmetry. Buyers worried that sellers knew more about a used car’s problems than they were letting on, which put a pervasive burden on the market, stunted it, and made it less efficient. A truly transparent form of digital market might perhaps offer a reduced occurrence of this sort of degradation.


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The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security by Deborah D. Avant

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barriers to entry, continuation of politics by other means, corporate social responsibility, failed state, hiring and firing, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, Mikhail Gorbachev, Peace of Westphalia, private military company, profit motive, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, rolodex, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, trade route, transaction costs

Furthermore, being part of an organization can Private security and the control of force 47 use and oversee force is delegated, which mediate problems of common agency.23 Williamson adds that internal organizations are more likely to make allowances for quasi-moral involvement.24 He builds on this quasi-moral involvement in his analysis of public versus private provision of sovereign transactions. 25 Sovereign transactions (foreign affairs, the military, foreign intelligence, managing the money supply and, possibly, the judiciary) are characterized by particular “contractual hazards” – asset specificity and probity. 26 Transactions that are long term, highly incomplete, and require loyalty (to leadership and mission) and integrity are best provided by public bureaucracies.27 Like all relationships of delegation, public bureaucracies are subject to agency slippage, and many have documented the loss of flexibility and bureaucratic disabilities that sometimes arise. 28 Market-based solutions may ameliorate these but, so long as the environmental conditions favor hierarchies, at a cost – either opportunistic incentives will increase, convergent expectations will erode, adaptations will not be appropriate, or cost will rise. Studies on privatization in the US have yielded a large body of literature consistent with Williamson’s claims.29 In a widely acclaimed promote convergent expectations, mediate information asymmetry (and the strategic use of it), and has advantages for settling disputes. Ibid., pp. 29, 40. 23 Common agency refers to the situation where principals must solve collective action problems among themselves even as they try to minimize agency slippage. This prob- lem can take the form of multiple principles – where two or more organizationally distinct principals delegate to an agent – or common agency – where a principal is made up of more than one actor.

State contracts for private force How should state contracts with PSCs affect the control over force ? A key variable will be the quality of the state and state forces to begin with. As indicated in the previous discussion, economic analyses assume appropriate institutions and focus on expected difficulties with monitoring and information asymmetry that should make the private delivery of sovereign tasks problematic. 61 Not all states, though, have such institutions in the first place. Williamson’s description of the necessary circumstances for assuming that states best provide sovereign services corresponds to the environment in what Joel Migdal has called “strong” states – states that are coherent, capable and legitimate. 62 60 See, for instance, Paul Pierson, “When Effect Becomes Cause: Policy Feedback and Political Change,” World Politics 45 (July 1993): 595–628; Paul Pierson, “Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics,” American Political Science Review Vol. 94, No. 2 (June 2000): 251–67; Douglass North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Robert L.

Given the trade-off between their ability to direct the bureaucracy to respond and their ability to only select from contractors, strong states risk paying more for private military services or losing some of their capacity to monitor and oversee the provision of these services. Depending on the level of competition and the degree to which the government specifies the details of security services, states may pay more for contractors to supply sovereign services than they would for their militaries, or be more likely to suffer problems in monitoring and information asymmetry that should increase the slippage between government goals and policy on the ground – in other words, privatizing sovereign services in strong states is likely to lead to some functional loss. 64 When new threats arise and/or PSCs offer services that the state’s military is not set up to deliver, PSCs may offer short run benefits.


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The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor, and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car by Tim Harford

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Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, congestion charging, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, invention of movable type, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, market design, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, new economy, Pearl River Delta, price discrimination, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, Shenzhen was a fishing village, special economic zone, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Vickrey auction

If buyers and sellers were both ignorant about whether a car was a lemon or a peach there would be no problem: buyers would be willing to pay up to $2,500 for a car that had a 50/50 chance of being a peach; sellers, equally ignorant, would be willing to accept any offer over $2,000. Of course they will strike a deal. It’s only when one negotiator knows too much and the other too little that agreement becomes impossible. Because the problem is caused by an uneven grasp on the facts, economists tend to call it “asymmetric information.” Ripping the “world of truth” apart, this imbalance in information can completely destroy perfect markets. Inside information and health insurance Akerlof ’s “lemons” problem would be troublesome enough if it applied only to secondhand cars, furnished accommodations, and dubious restaurants in the world’s beauty spots.

Jerome, I suspect myself to be a lemon, I’d be well • 113 • T H E U N D E R C O V E R E C O N O M I S T advised to buy all the medical insurance going. On the other hand, if you feel fine and all your ancestors lived to be a hundred, then perhaps you will buy medical insurance only if it is extremely cheap. After all, you hardly expect to need it. Thanks to Akerlof ’s proof that markets whose players have asymmetric information are doomed, we know that the insurance market may disappear just as the market for good-quality used cars did. You, whose body is a succulent peach, will not find the typical insurance package a good deal; while Mr. Jerome and I, whose bodies are bitter little lemons, will embrace the typical insurance package with open arms.

To return to Akerlof ’s original example of the market for secondhand cars, both buyers and sellers have an incentive to try to fix the problem: sellers want to get a decent price for their peaches, and buyers want to buy peaches. If inside information is wrecking the chance of a mutually beneficial deal, both sides will want to find a way to bridge the information gap. Akerlof won the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his work on the problem of asymmetric information; he shared it with two economists who proposed partial solutions. Michael Spence argued that the person with the information might be able to communicate it in a way that the person without the information could trust. Joe Stiglitz looked at the problem in reverse and explored ways in which the person without the information might uncover it.

Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, California gold rush, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, colonial rule, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the telegraph, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, land tenure, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, margin call, means of production, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, statistical arbitrage, survivorship bias, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Vanguard fund, working poor, yield curve

Contrary to common conception, this was not passed out of a desire for reform; rather, it was passed prior to the collapse of the firm and was meant to aid and insulate the South Sea Company from competition for investors’ funds by preventing other smaller entities from marketing shares, as they did not possess the required charter.9 Nonetheless, the Bubble Act came to be used to regulate these early companies and made them less likely to do widespread harm. Ultimately, the South Sea Bubble reminded investors of exploitable information asymmetries between the body of shareholders and management, and it drove many to approach the task of allocating money with greater scrutiny and diligence. In the end, of course, the fraudulent activities of Enron and Bernie Madoff are echoes of this forerunner some three centuries earlier. Adam Smith, the oft-cited “father of modern economics,” took an entirely adversarial view of the structure of the joint-stock companies The Democratization of Investment 69 and the notion of investment management more broadly.

So, they worked together to get to the bottom of it, only to find that much of the earlier work was rife with inconsistencies and ambiguity.12 They determined that new work was required, and that was precisely what they produced, publishing their results in the American Economic Review in 1958 with a paper entitled “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the Theory of Investment.”13 The result was the Modigliani-Miller theorem, which was among the work for which Merton Miller would win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1990 and would help Modigliani win the 1985 prize (along with his work on the life-cycle hypothesis).14 The Modigliani-Miller theorem first established several conditions under which their results would hold: no taxes or bankruptcy costs, no asymmetric information, a random walk pricing process, and an efficient market. If these conditions hold, the value of a firm should be unaffected by the capital structure it adopts. In other words, the sum of the value of the debt and the value of the equity should remain constant regardless of how 234 Investment: A History that sum is distributed across debt and equity individually.


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The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands by Eric Topol

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23andMe, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Anne Wojcicki, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, bioinformatics, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, global village, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, lifelogging, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Snapchat, social graph, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Still, however, the majority of biomedical publications are inaccessible without a subscription, and purchase of a single article is ridiculously expensive (often $30–$50). We’ll come back to this issue and the need for open access later, but at least for now an abstract, or summary, of each article is usually available. There is a common thread about Goodsell and the Lepps that is fundamental—information asymmetry. Doctors have all the data, information, and knowledge. Patients can remain passive or ignorant of their medical information, or, if they choose to be active, they typically have to call repeatedly or beg to get their data, such as the results of laboratory tests or a scan. Before it can change, we have to deal with some entrenched clinical terms and practices that exemplify the problem.

The typical response from the medical profession for this anomaly is that patients cannot understand the information or will get terribly confused and anxious without proper context and knowledge. Only with spoon-feeding by doctors and health care professionals will these concerns be eschewed. There is also the more self-serving fear that data access might facilitate or even stimulate malpractice litigation. This deep-seated defense of information asymmetry, a patent outgrowth of profound paternalism, will ultimately prove to be untenable.3,4 The digitization of medical information, and the way it will naturally flow to individuals, will drive information parity and apposite ownership in the future. That certainly isn’t how it works now. Ironically, when you’re alive, the medical community owns your records, lab tests, scans, and biopsy and tissue specimens.

identity theft stemming from, 226 importance of knowing, 149–152 lab tests, 150–151 of modern health care, 139–141 opacity of the market, 141–142 open access to biomedical publications, 209–211 outsourcing health care, 147–149 remote monitoring versus hospitalization, 192 smartphone information spread improving, 51 smartphones and diagnostic apps, 8 Theranos blood tests, 106–107 transparency, 151–158 waste in health care expenditures, 142–147 Couric, Katie, 61 Coursera, 197 Court Ventures, 224 The Creative Destruction of Medicine (Topol), 13 Creativity, 45, 51–53 Crowdsourcing, 153, 206, 212–213, 269 Cures for disease, 238 Cystic fibrosis, 203, 205 Cytomegalovirus (CMV), 262 Daschle, Tom, 169 Data analysis via smartphone, 6–7 Data brokers, 223–225, 243 Data collection and management access and ownership, 22, 125–127, 281–282 clinical trials, 214–215 DNA database, 71–72 Global Burden of Disease, 257–258 information asymmetry, 26–27 interoperability and fragmentation of data, 136–138 mapping malaria spread data, 262 medical device hacking, 230–231 medications information, 132–134 MOOMs, 204–207 ownership of your body’s data, 281–282 patient-generated data, 135–136 physicians transferring responsibilities to patients, 178–179 predictive analysis, 240–246 security and privacy concerns, 220–235 supercomputer manipulation, 248–249 See also Records, medical Data mining, 214, 239, 243 Data pooling, 4–6, 205 Datacoup, 200 DataDonors, 200 Davis, Ernest, 241 Dawson, Nick, 137 De novo mutations, 85 Death cancer, 268 Global Burden of Disease, 258(fig.)


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Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, Bob Geldof, Bretton Woods, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, diversification, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Live Aid, M-Pesa, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War

In Zambia, as in other African countries where micro-finance has started to blossom, the risk of lending to the most risky is often reduced through joint liability – the notion that members of a group of borrowers are all liable for any loans that a micro-finance lender makes to them. Consider again a group of borrowers in a small rural village, where the lender has virtually no information on the individual borrowers. Joint liability gets around this information asymmetry in a number of ways. When forming their groups, borrowers have an incentive at the onset to match themselves with other good borrowers, and exclude those known to be high-risk. Naturally, this self-selection mechanism helps the lender screen the borrowers and reduce the risk of default. Joint liability also addresses the moral hazard lenders typically face – that is, the risk that once a loan is made, once the borrower has secured the cash, she defaults.

However, with ever-increasing numbers of micro-lenders, and growing participation in this type of lending, the interest rates charged inevitably become lower and, in this sense, more competitive. As to the Ponzi scheme criticism, the objection merely points to the need for more information concerning borrowers – who’s good and who’s bad (which, by the way, is exactly the information asymmetry that the Grameen model mitigates). And on the issue of consumption versus investment, this applies to any loan, any time, anywhere. The important point, not to be overlooked, is that the previously unbankable and excluded poor are now part of a functioning financial dynamic. With this comes a culture of borrowing and repayment crucial for financial development in a well-oiled successful economy.

Global Governance and Financial Crises by Meghnad Desai, Yahia Said

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Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency peg, deglobalization, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, German hyperinflation, information asymmetry, knowledge economy, liberal capitalism, liberal world order, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, Nick Leeson, oil shock, open economy, price mechanism, price stability, Real Time Gross Settlement, rent-seeking, short selling, special drawing rights, structural adjustment programs, Tobin tax, transaction costs, Washington Consensus

Allen, F. and Gale, D. (2000) “Bubbles and crises,” Economic Journal, 110: 236–255. Allen, F. and Gorton, G. (1993) “Churning bubbles,” Review of Economic Studies, 60: 813–836. 42 Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale Allen, F., Morris, S. and Postlewaite, A. (1993) “Finite bubbles with short sale constraints and asymmetric information,” Journal of Economic Theory, 61: 206–229. Calomiris, C. and Gorton, G. (1991) “The origins of banking panics, models, facts, and bank regulation,” in G. Hubbard (ed.), Financial Markets and Financial Crises, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. Calomiris, C. and Kahn, C. (1991) “The role of demandable debt in structuring optimal banking arrangements,” American Economic Review, 81: 497–513.

The sources of these crises starting in Latin America, Asia, Russia, were very different from the sovereign debt crises of the 1980s. They originated in capital markets with predominant role of private debtors as well as creditors. They implied fundamentals of a microeconomic variety due to financial fragility: gross undervaluation of credit risk, overindebtedness, acute asymmetric information. They developed in interaction between the sharp deterioration of creditworthiness, the breakup of pegged exchange rate regimes and the surge of volatility and correlation in asset prices. The Fund’s apparatus was hardly fit to meet the challenge of emerging market crises. The Mexican crisis in 1994 –95 was a harbinger from which proper lessons were not drawn.

Did this particular combination produce incentives that led to the failure of this maximisation-cum-equilibrium process because it created a situation characterised by factors such as excess liquidity (through a massive growth in inflows), and increased financial fragility (via augmenting the weight of ‘speculative’ and ‘Ponzi’ finance)? Did this particular combination also make significantly worse other common economic problems, such as asymmetric information by, for example, liberalisation being so sudden that it led to the interaction, on one side, of international financial institutions with very little knowledge of the institutional dynamics of emerging markets and, on the other, of still inexperienced domestic financial players?2 This chapter attempts to answer these questions regarding the above-mentioned financial crises.


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Broken Markets: A User's Guide to the Post-Finance Economy by Kevin Mellyn

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banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, information asymmetry, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, lump of labour, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mobile money, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, seigniorage, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the payments system, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

eBook <www.wowebook.com> Trust In Financial Market Meltdown, I explain how a bank account has always been a one-sided contract in which the bank knows a lot about what the depositor is doing with his or her money, but the depositor has no clue about what the bank is doing with it. This is called information asymmetry and is a key source of profit for financial services companies. Financial firms always know a great deal more about market conditions, especially the price of money, than their customers. However, post-crisis, they have to regain the trust they have forfeited. This will require them to become much more—at the risk of using a hackneyed term—transparent.

., 139 Finance-driven economy, 1, 72 anti-capitalism, 2 capitalism, 1 chronic debt crisis, 22 corporate America, 20 current movie artificial bank earnings, 7 asset prices, 6 banking implosions, 6 borrowers and investors connection, 10 borrowing demand, 7 catastrophic financial bubble, 10 civilization, 10 corporatism, 9 democratic crony capitalism, 9 Dodd-Frank act, 8 economic growth and social stability, 10 financial repression, 9 Glass-Steagall Act, 8 human ingenuity, 10 interbank funding markets, 6 low interest rates and easy money, 6 market collapse, 10 money market, 6 overexuberence, 6 overinvestment and speculation, 6 pre-crisis conditions, 8 printing money, 7 private capital, 7 167 168 Index Finance-driven economy (continued) profitability, 7 quantitative easing, 8 recovery, 8 regulation, 8 regulatory capital rules, 8 resources and tools, 9 shell-shocked enterprises and households, 8 end of employment, 21–22 financial leverage magic and poison CEO class, 14–15 consumer debt, 15–16 disconnection problem, 11–12 market bargain, 10 real economy, 10 wealth financialization, 13–14 working capital, 11 global financial crisis, 2 Great Moderation, 16–18 Great Panic, 18–19 household sector agony, 19–20 investor class, 22 Marx, Karl asset bubble, 5 cash nexus, 4 dot-com bubble, 5 economic revolution, 3 First World War, 4 free markets, 3 French Revolution, 3 globalization, 3 Great Depression, 5 liberalism, 3 normalcy, 4 overproduction and speculation, 3 Wall Street, 4, 5 revolutionary socialism, 2 sovereign debt, 8, 22 Finance reconstruction, 142 bank bashing, 146 “bankers”, 142 business model, challenges, 145 Citigroup, 145 cyclical businesses, 143 government management, 142 legitimacy bonus culture, 148–150 privileged opportunity, longestablished bank, 146 short-term share-price manipulation, 148 state and legal systems, 147 stock price, 147 mark-to-market price, 144 “producers”, 143 profession, definition, 163 prudence, 145, 161–163 root-and-branch transformation, 145 talent pool, 144 “the race for talent”, 143 trust cash management, 160 Financial Market Meltdown, 159 FSA, 159 hackneyed term, 159 information asymmetry, 159 non-bank financial service provider, 161 oversold/up-sold products, 159 utility Anglo-Saxon-type banking systems, 156 big data tools, 158 bills-of-exchange market, 150 branch and payment services, 157 clearinghouse creation, 158 core banking, 154 economic value transmission, 150 exchange of claims, 151 fee-income growth, 155 fiat money system, 151 financial intermediation, 150 financial transactions, 157 flexible contractor/subcontractor relationship, 158 information technology, 156 “liquidity premium”, 152 multidivisional/M-form organization, 153 non-interest income, 155 old-media companies, 157 Index overhead value analysis, 154 “privileged opportunity”, 152 quill pen–era practice, 158 sheer utility value, 155 silos, product business, 153 transaction accounts, 152 venture capital industry, 142 “War for Talent”, 143 Financial crises, 23 affordable housing, 24 banking “transmission” mechanism, 43 Basel III process, 50–51 basel process, 27–28 consumer banking(see Consumer banking) Dodd-Frank, 49–50 domestic banking system, 38 European Union, 51–53 FDIC, 40 finance-driven economy’s leverage machine, 43 Financial Market Meltdown, 25 GDP, 38 Government Policy and Central Banks, market meltdown(see Regulation process) government policy failure, 45 “government-sponsored” public companies, 24 Great Depression, 44 GSEs, 24 legal missteps, 47–48 New Deal, 43 panic-stricken markets, 40 political missteps, 45–47 Ponzi scheme, 42 postwar financial order, 25–27 printing money, 38 private profits and socialized losses, 40 private-sector demand, 43 public-sector demand, 42 quantitative approach, 25 TARP, 39 too-big-to-fail institutions, 41 Triple A bonds, 41 US Federal Reserve System, 38 Financial liberalization, 89 Financial Market Meltdown, 25, 61, 89, 109, 159 Financial repression, 9, 78, 111 Financial Services Authority (FSA), 60, 159 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 69 Fordism, 68 Free-market capitalism, 89 Free markets, 3 French Revolution, 3 Front-end trading systems, 107 FSA.See Financial Services Authority G GDP, 11 “Giro” payments systems, 151 Global imbalance, 96 Globalization, 3 Global whirlwinds, 93 Asia, finance movement cultural differences, 110–111 Financial Market Meltdown, 109 Interest Equalization Tax, 109 language, law, and business culture, 109 primacy, 109 austerity(see Austerity) British Empire, 30 Chimerica, 97 China and United States cross-Pacific economy, 97 foreign interference and aggression, 98 headline growth rates, 97 repression revolution and series, 97–98 Second World War, 98 Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 98 surpluse trade, 97 sustainable development, 98 Chinese ascendancy, 113 clearing and settlement bottleneck, 106–107 Dynastic China, 112 169 Download from Wow!


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What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us, and How to Fix It by Stephen Davis, Jon Lukomnik, David Pitt-Watson

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Admiral Zheng, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, computerized trading, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, diversification, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Northern Rock, passive investing, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, WikiLeaks

The IEX is backed by mutual fund companies and other longer-term investors, and the hope is that it will attract enough investors frustrated with the advantages given to high-frequency traders to provide adequate liquidity.65 It may or may not work, but the basic idea, to find a venue where longer-term investors can be treated fairly, will no doubt be a driving force in other innovations. REGULATE HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADERS APPROPRIATELY Some academics make a strong case that when a high-frequency trader can get information before the general market, it functions as something of a “market maker,” a legal term that carries with it a requirement to not take advantage of that information asymmetry. Recent work has suggested that math and physics can create a standard for who is a market maker, thereby ensuring a fair trading system for all.66 USE COLLECTIVE ACTION TO ALLOW MONEY MANAGERS TO FOCUS ON BENEFITS FOR ALL As we have seen, citizen investors benefit when asset managers address big systemic issues, even if no individual asset manager gains a competitive advantage.

Stephen Davis, Jon Lukomnik, and David Pitt-Watson, “Active Shareowner Stewardship: A New Paradigm for Capitalism,” Rotman International Journal of Pension Management 2, no. 2 (Fall 2009), http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1493279. 23. The industry’s argument against applying fiduciary standards to brokers are two-fold. The first argument is that they are just selling financial products. But that ignores the information asymmetry between brokers and their clients. The second is that the added cost of complying with a fiduciary standard in a litigious society such as the United States will mean that some brokers will refuse to provide advice. That may well be true, but the question is, what type of advice is now being provided, and what will be provided in the future?


pages: 239 words: 69,496

The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return by Mihir Desai

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, assortative mating, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, carried interest, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, follow your passion, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, housing crisis, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jony Ive, Kenneth Rogoff, Louis Bachelier, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, new economy, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, principal–agent problem, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, zero-sum game

Or, who owns that MRI center?). Now imagine that same problem on a much larger scale, with the trillions of dollars invested in companies. In all these companies, shareholders can’t monitor managers, and managers know much more about what is going on than shareholders ever could—that’s called informational asymmetry. How do you know if Tim Cook has the right strategy? How do you know how hard Tim Cook is working? There simply isn’t any way to know those things definitively. And managers aren’t evil, but they sometimes have their own personal agendas, which may not be coincident with those of the owners.

See also annuities aggregate outcomes, 21, 25, 30–31 chance and randomness, 21–22 contract of bottomry, 23 deductibles, 29 disorder and chaos, 34 families and, 29–30 history of, 22–24 Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 24 mandate, 29 modern image of, 22 risk aversion and diminishing marginal utility of wealth, 166–67 Roman burial societies, 23–24 “rules of jettison” or law of general average, 23 witchcraft and, 24–25 investors CEO deaths, reaction to, 78, 80 diffuse ownership, 78, 81, 82 informational asymmetry, 79 pension and endowment funds, 82 Ishiguro, Kazuo, 9, 133 J James, William 15 Jefferson, Thomas, 139–40 Jensen, Michael, 137–38 Johnson, Samuel, 7, 59, 74 “On the Death of Dr. Robert Levet,” 68–69 Journal of Law and Economics, 115 Joyce, James, 91–92, 161 Jura, 128 K Kafka, Franz, 47 Kant, Immanuel, 154–55 Keynes, John Maynard, 51 Kirshner, Julius, 103 Klein, Francesca, 101 Koestler, Arthur, 128 Koons, Jeff, xi, 8, 127, 129–31, 137, 140–41 Celebration series, 140 effective use of leverage, 140–41 Play-Doh, 129 Popeye, 141 L Laplace, Pierre-Simon, 20 LeFevre, Gregg, 174 Lehman Brothers insolvency, 147–48 Let’s Make a Deal (TV show), 16 leverage, 8 benefits and drawbacks, 123–26, 135 Bentham and Smith conflict on, 121–22 “bonus” of leverage, 137–38 debt overhang, 132–35 definition, 123–24 leveraged buyout, 127 risk and return, 125–27 static trade-off theory, 126 leverage, personal and artistic, 127–30 commitment device, 131, 137–40 connection to debt overhang, 132–35 degree of leverage, 130–32 effective use, 138–39 failure and rebirth, 149–50 life-cycle hypothesis, 135–36 role of reputation, 139–40 Levin, Jerry, 108–11 Levine, Joseph, 93–94 Little Feat, 99 Luna, Elle, 90–91 M Macfarlane, Alan, 24 Mad Max (film), 54–55 Maltese Falcon, The (Hammett), 11 Mann, Bruce, 143, 145, 147 Mao Zedong, 67 Marcus, Steven, 11 Mars, Kenneth, 93 Mariani, Paul, 33 McNamee, Roger, 108 Melville, Herman, 46–49 Merchant of Venice, The (Shakespeare), 8, 120 (illus.), 122–23 mergers, 8 AOL–Time Warner merger mistakes, 109–12 asymmetric mergers (bolt-on acquisitions), 111 Ford Motor and Firestone Tire partnership, 117–18 General Motors and Fisher Body merger, 113–17 Hewlett Packard and Autonomy acquisition, 109 integration planning, 110 mergers of equals, 111 serial acquirers, 111 synergies, 109–10 Merton, Robert, 40 Miller, Alice, 95 Milton, John, xi, 7, 59, 68–69, 74 “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” 70–71 Miracle Worker, The (film, play), 96 Miranda, Lin-Manuel, 75 Molho, Anthony, 103 Monte Dei Paschi di Siena, 100 Monte delle doti, 101–4 “Monty Hall” problem, 16 moral hazard, 28–30 Morris, Robert, 142 career, 143–45 financier of the revolution, 143 relative to J.


pages: 261 words: 103,244

Economists and the Powerful by Norbert Haring, Norbert H. Ring, Niall Douglas

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, central bank independence, collective bargaining, commodity trading advisor, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, diversified portfolio, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, law of one price, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, new economy, obamacare, old-boy network, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, Renaissance Technologies, rolodex, Sergey Aleynikov, shareholder value, short selling, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, union organizing, Vilfredo Pareto, working-age population, World Values Survey

These models feature perfect competition, efficient financial markets, full information and eternal equilibrium. People are modeled as being perfectly substitutable for one another, which stands in stark contrast to the championing of the individual that has long been a mainstay of mainstream economics. In particular, defining away imperfect and asymmetric information – and not talking about it – goes a long way in tacitly taking power out of economics. Power has been made taboo and thus acquired a negative connotation. However, most firms and corporations would not function without it. Without functioning corporations, there would be no basis for the high wages that they pay.

If they negotiate with an employer organization over standards for the whole industry, this will also take care of the adverse selection problem for companies who are willing to satisfy union demands. The downside of collective negotiations is, of course, that individual preference differences around the average cannot be taken into account. Failure to deal adequately with the issue of asymmetric information might well explain why Americans have so much less vacation time and longer workweeks than Europeans. The US labor market is much closer to the neoclassical ideal of free contract. In most of Europe there are long minimum vacation times and extensive restrictions on the length of the workweek imposed by governments or unions.

Schmitz, James A. Jr. 2005. “What Determines Productivity? Lessons from the Dramatic Recovery of the U.S. and Canadian Iron Ore Industries Following Their Early 1980s Crisis.” Journal of Political Economy 113: 582–625. Schmitz, Patrick. 2004. “Job Protection Laws and Agency Problems under Asymmetric Information.” European Economic Review 48: 1027–46. Schularick, Moritz and Alan M. Taylor. 2009. “Credit Booms Gone Bust: Monetary Policy, Leverage Cycles and Financial Crises, 1870–2008.” NBER Working Paper 15512. Schumpeter, Joseph. 1943/2003. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. London: George Allen and Unwin.


pages: 411 words: 108,119

The Irrational Economist: Making Decisions in a Dangerous World by Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Paul Slovic

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Andrei Shleifer, availability heuristic, bank run, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cross-subsidies, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kenneth Arrow, Loma Prieta earthquake, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, source of truth, statistical model, stochastic process, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto

That the contingent contracts in the real world depend in major part on variables endogenous to the economic system has been especially emphasized by Mordecai Kurz (1974 and 1996, among other papers). LIMITED INFORMATION OF ECONOMIC AGENTS Probably the most important innovation in economic theory in the last fifty years has been the emphasis on what has been called asymmetric information. The term information is properly and appropriately used in the sense given by mathematical statistics or communication theory: an observation on one random variable that changes the probability distribution of some random variables relevant to decision making. It is clear and reasonable that different individuals have access to different information; they have varying life experiences and varying opportunities to make observations.

Hence, if there are enough markets for contingent contracts depending on economic events (standard securities or those derived from them, such as options), one could infer what the value of insurance policies on states of nature would be. But this inference would depend on knowing the entire system of general equilibrium relations, and this knowledge is not available to individual agents. The more standard problems raised by asymmetric information are also relevant here. A contingent market can exist only if the contingency can be verified by all parties, and this condition will frequently not hold. This is probably the most basic reason why the full set of markets called for in the theory of general equilibrium under uncertainty does not exist.

As a result, a risky investment that is socially unprofitable (a negative expected value or a positive expected value insufficient to compensate for the market-determined risk level) may be privately rational for the decision maker, because the latter will not bear all the negative consequences he or she imposed on others.5 This incentive problem is intrinsic to the nature of modern capitalism. It is built into the concept of limited liability. Obviously, one aim of this policy is to increase the ability to take risks. The only question is whether, in a world of imperfect and asymmetric information, it does not lead to excessive risk-bearing. These are problems that need to be addressed. RECOMMENDED READING Arrow, K. J. (1953). “Le role des valeurs boursières pour la repartition la meilleure des risques.” In Économetrie, Colloques Internationaux du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Vol. 11, pp. 41-47.


pages: 385 words: 111,807

A Pelican Introduction Economics: A User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liberation theology, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, post-industrial society, precariat, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, working-age population, World Values Survey

The government may not be able to correct for market failures, even if it wants to, due to asymmetric information and resource constraints In addition to questioning the motives of the government – or, rather, of those who control the government – the government failure argument questions whether it is even capable of correcting for market failures, even in the unlikely case of it genuinely wanting to improve social welfare. Government policies may fail due to asymmetric information. Asymmetric information, to remind you, means that a party in an interaction may know more about the activity that it is engaged in than does the other party.

The current state of affairs in which the predominant majority of Neoclassical economists are of free-market leaning is actually due more to the shift in political ideology since the 1980s than to the absence or the poor quality of theories within Neoclassical economics identifying the limits of the free market. If anything, the arsenal for Neoclassical economists who reject free-market policies has been expanded since the 1980s by the development of information economics, led by Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof and Michael Spence. Information economics explains why asymmetric information – the situation in which one party to a market exchange knows something that the other does not – makes markets malfunction or even cease to exist.7 However, since the 1980s, many Neoclassical economists have also developed theories that go so far as to deny the possibility of market failures, such as the ‘rational expectation’ theory in macroeconomics or the ‘efficient market hypothesis’ in financial economics, basically arguing that people know what they are doing and therefore the government should leave them alone – or, in technical terms, economic agents are rational and therefore market outcomes efficient.

The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life by Steven E. Landsburg

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, diversified portfolio, first-price auction, German hyperinflation, Golden Gate Park, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, means of production, price discrimination, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Coase, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, statistical model, the scientific method, Unsafe at Any Speed

Insurance markets are odd, because the buyer almost invariably has better information than the seller. If you wire your den with extension cords and cover them with paneling, you know exactly what you've done, but your insurance agent does not. He is left to wonder why you suddenly want to triple your fire insurance. Asymmetric information typically yields surprising outcomes, driven by one party's efforts to guess what the other party knows. In some cases, asymmetric information threatens to drive insurance markets entirely out of existence. Rank policyholders' risk levels from 1 to 10, with 5 being the average. If the insurance company sets rates that reflect that average risk level, the Is, 2s, and 3s might feel overcharged and drop out of the market. 22 WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT Now the average risk level is no longer 5 but 7.

INDEX Abortion, 58 Agriculture and the Invisible Hand, 77-80 scattering in, 16-17 subsidies to, 36-37 as technology for auto production, 197 AIDS, 91-92 Air pollution and markets, 81 Airports, privatization of, 122-123 Alchian, Armen, 5 Allen, Woody, 32 Ames, Bruce, 226 Animals, response to incentives, 9 Antitrust legislation, 147 Arrow, Kenneth, 53 Artists' royalties, 123 Asymmetric information, 21-23 Auctions, types of, 176 Automobile safety, 3-5 Automobiles, quality of American, 139-141 Baby on Board signs, 5-6 Bacon, Francis, 204 Barge teams, 173 Barro, Robert, 111 Becker, Gary, 234 Bils, Mark, viii, 131, 234 Bipartisanship, 146-147 Birth control, 6-7 Bond, Eric, 233 Boyd, John H.


pages: 559 words: 155,372

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez

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Airbnb, airport security, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, Burning Man, Celtic Tiger, centralized clearinghouse, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, drone strike, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, financial independence, global supply chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social web, Socratic dialogue, source of truth, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, urban renewal, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, éminence grise

Like any large company, Facebook would always aim to create monopoly pricing power and maintain information asymmetry, rather than drive true innovation. If Facebook played with the outside world, it always played with loaded dice. Recall the depths of the credit crash at Goldman back in 2008. Goldman could have pushed for the obvious technical step of trading credit derivatives on exchanges, which would have resulted in greater volume and greater transparency, and taken the regulatory heat off. But would Goldman cede its information asymmetry in the form of the trading flows that it, and only it, saw? Would it cede the ability to more or less arbitrarily set prices for credit risk, alongside a tightly knit network of brokers, effectively manipulating the market to its own benefit, rather than offering an open one?

The internal chatter on the desk was that the government would exploit the crisis to regulate our Wild West market. Goldman (briefly) considered taking the initiative and self-regulating into exchange-traded markets instead. It decided against doing so, with reasoning I’d see again at Facebook: an incumbent in a market dominated by a few, with total information asymmetry, and the ability to make prices on the market rather than just take them, has little incentive to increase transparency. The bid-ask spread—that is, Goldman’s difference in price when buying or selling the same thing—was huge on credit derivatives. Goldman made fortunes simply passing a piece of paper from its left hand to its right, from seller of risk to buyer of it.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

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Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

The notion economists pushed—that markets are efficient and self-adjusting—gave comfort to regulators like Alan Greenspan, who didn’t believe in regulation in the first place . . . We should be clear about this: economic theory never provided much support for these free market views. Theories of imperfect and asymmetric information in markets had undermined every one of the “efficient market” doctrines, even before they became fashionable in the Reagan-Thatcher era.58 Pace Stiglitz, each blow just seemed to leave it a little stronger. One of the characteristics of the EMH that rendered it impervious to refutation was the fact that both proponents and critics were sometimes extremely cavalier about the meaning and referent of the adjective “efficient.”

Appelbaum, Binyamin. “Politicians Can’t Agree on Debt? Well, Neither Can Economists,” New York Times, July 17, 2011. Ariely, Daniel. Predictably Irrational, rev. ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 2010). Armantier, Olivier, Charles Holt, and Charles Plott. “A Procurement Auction for Toxic Assets with Asymmetric Information,” CalTech Social Science Working Paper 1330R, 2011. Arnsperger, Christian. Critical Political Economy (London: Routledge, 2008). Arnsperger, Christian, and Yanis Varoufakis. “What Is Neoclassical Economics?” Post-Autistic Economics Review 38 (2006): 2–12. Arrow, Kenneth. “Gifts and Exchanges,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1972): 343–62.

., pp. 120–21. 78 Ehrenreich, “Turning Poverty into an American Crime.” 79 See www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/02/05/18637084.php. 80 Knight, “Gary Lures Hollywood with a Bounty of Decay.” 81 Lieber, “Last Plea on Student Loans.” 82 Hacker and Dreifus, “The Debt Crisis at American Colleges.” 83 One must acknowledge that there have been various “epicycles” proposed to the neoclassical model to supposedly cover these phenomena, from “search costs” to ‘“asymmetric information” to “lemon models” and beyond; but two observations render them moot. First, they really are epicycles, and have never been incorporated into the core microeconomic model. One reason may be that there is no consensus technique to correctly incorporate “information” into the model of the economic agent (Mirowski, “Why There Is (as Yet) No Such Thing as an Economics of Knowledge”).


pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Pareto efficiency, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, US Airways Flight 1549

Why on earth, I asked Wolf, would anyone pay $100 extra—probably every month—to fill a prescription at Walgreens instead of Costco? His answer: if a retiree is used to filling his prescriptions at Walgreens, that’s where he fills his prescriptions, and he assumes that the price of a generic drug (or, perhaps, any drug) is pretty much the same at any pharmacy. Talk about information asymmetry; talk about price discrimination! I had meant to write about this, and had collected a few relevant links: a TV news report in Houston about Wolf’s discovery; an extensive price comparison compiled by a TV news reporter in Detroit; a Consumer Reports survey; and a research report on the subject from Senator Dianne Feinstein.

I’ll have to remember that the next time my kids catch me trying to buy a two-dollar toy when I’d promised one for twenty. The New-Car Mating Dance (SDL) My car is ten years old, so I went out to buy a new one this weekend. In Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, we write a lot about how the Internet has changed markets in which there are information asymmetries. Buying a new car gave me the chance to see firsthand these forces at work in the new car market. I was not disappointed. I already knew what kind of car I wanted. Within fifteen minutes and at no cost, using sites like TrueCar and Edmunds, I not only had a good idea of a fair price to pay for the car, but also was able to notify some local car dealerships that I was interested in quotes.


pages: 823 words: 220,581

Debunking Economics - Revised, Expanded and Integrated Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, place-making, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave, zero-sum game

Beta itself is a measure of the ratio of the variability of a given share’s return to the variability of the market index, and the degree of correlation between the share’s return and the market index return. 14 There are three variations on this, known as the weak, semi-strong and strong forms of the EMH. 15 As I have explained, however, to Fisher’s credit, his failure led to an epiphany that resulted in him renouncing neoclassical thinking, and making a major contribution to the alternative approach to economics that Minsky later developed into the Financial Instability Hypothesis. Chapter 12 1 Bernanke went on to rephrase debt deflation using several concepts from neoclassical microeconomics – including information asymmetry, the impairment of banks’ role as adjudicators of the quality of debtors, and so on. He also ultimately developed a cumbersome neoclassical explanation for nominal wage rigidity which gave debt a role, arguing that ‘nonindexation of financial contracts, and the associated debt-deflation, might in some way have been a source of the slow adjustment of wages and other prices’ (Bernanke 2000: 32–3).

(Blanchard 2009: 214–15) The weaknesses in the model38 are addressed by adding yet more microeconomic imperfections. These include adding the reality that the labor market is not homogeneous to explain involuntary unemployment – ‘One striking (and unpleasant) characteristic of the basic NK model is that there is no unemployment!’ (ibid.: 216) – and using the concept of asymmetric information to explain problems in credit markets. This saltwater approach necessarily achieved a better fit to the data than the extreme neoclassical vision of the freshwater faction, but for reasons that are hardly exemplary, as Solow observed: The simpler sort of RBC model that I have been using for expository purposes has had little or no empirical success, even with a very undemanding notion of ‘empirical success.’


pages: 320 words: 87,853

The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, bonus culture, Brian Krebs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chelsea Manning, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computerized markets, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, don't be evil, drone strike, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, hiring and firing, housing crisis, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, kremlinology, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mobile money, moral hazard, new economy, Nicholas Carr, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Philip Mirowski, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, Satyajit Das, search engine result page, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steven Levy, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, two-sided market, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

It also extends an open invitation for quants or traders or managers to bully their way past gatekeepers, like rating agencies, accountants, and regulators.167 In so many situations leading up to the financial crisis, there was always some algorithmic wiggle room, some way for quants to tweak the numbers. As French sociologist Bruno Latour has observed, “The world is not a solid continent of facts sprinkled by a few lakes of uncertainties, but a vast ocean of uncertainties speckled by a few islands of calibrated and stabilized forms.”168 A fi nancial world built on exploiting information asymmetries amounts to an “ocean of uncertainties,” but at least in the decades between the New Deal and wholesale deregulation, “calibrated and stabilized forms” like rating agencies, insurance fi rms, and investment bank partnerships (whose owners had their own money on the line) kept some semblance of order.

Alan Greenspan, “Dodd-Frank Fails to Meet Test of Our Times,” Financial Times, March 29, 2011; Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” American Economics Review 35 (1945): 519–530. Of course, as Richard Bronk observes, “Hayek’s analysis falls short by ignoring the role of dominant narratives, analytical monocultures, self-reinforcing emotions, feedback loops, information asymmetries and market power in distorting the wisdom of prices.” Richard Bronk, “Hayek on the Wisdom of Prices: A Reassessment,” Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 6, no. 1 (2013): 82–107. 6. Lee H. Fang, “The Invisible Hand of Business in the 2012 Election,” The Nation, November 19, 2003, http://www.thenation .com /article /177252 /invisible-hand-business-2012-election. 7.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

As Marx put it, ‘interest-bearing capital generally is the mother of all crazy forms’.52 Once they had exhausted the market for mortgages among the middle classes, and then securitised the debt, US mortgage companies moved into the sub-prime market by luring low-income households with teaser rates that soon gave way to usurious rates of interest. Having pocketed the commission and fees, they securitised these high-risk, high-interest loans too. So the ability to lay off risk through securitisation induced highly irresponsible, predatory lending and short-term ‘investment’. Crucial in all this was what economists call ‘information asymmetry’. When most people take their car to the garage for a service, they know much less about what needs doing than do the mechanics, so they can easily be taken advantage of. And dodgy second-hand car dealers with cars that they suspect are developing a serious fault may be tempted to hide this from buyers and get rid of it as fast as possible.

Managers of funds on behalf of clients such as pension funds can take advantage of their superior market knowledge to corner a significant share of the gains for themselves and to charge high fees. Trading of customised financial products such as credit derivatives ‘over the counter’ – that is, one-to-one between buyer and seller rather than in a competitive market trading more transparent standardised products with many buyers and sellers – heightens the information asymmetry in favour of sellers and the opportunity for them to extract rents. Carrying out mergers and acquisitions is an especially lucrative line of business, with fees averaging 1.5% of deal value. Vodafone’s takeover of Mannesman yielded $640 million in fees for intermediaries.87 These fee revenues are typically concentrated at the top.

From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry by Martin Campbell-Kelly

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Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, business process, card file, computer age, computer vision, continuous integration, deskilling, Donald Knuth, Grace Hopper, information asymmetry, inventory management, John Markoff, John von Neumann, linear programming, Menlo Park, Network effects, popular electronics, RAND corporation, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, software patent, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

France was not a land of opportunity for the developer of a new spreadsheet program.5 While would-be producers of shrink-wrapped software outside the United States were waiting for their domestic markets to mature, an entire business and publishing culture sprang up around American productivity programs. For example, by 1985 there were more than 200 books on the use of spreadsheets in business, nearly every one of them tied to one of the top US products. Europe has never since been able to wrest the market for desktop productivity software from US firms. Information Asymmetry and Clustering Effects The clustering of firms was a major factor in the success of Silicon Valley. A cluster is a group of companies (usually small ones) that produce the subassemblies and components of a complex product (say, a personal computer or a network switch). The firms are coordinated entirely through market mechanisms.

Geographical proximity is crucial to the operation of a cluster. A complex network of social relationships, consolidated in professional meetings, bars, and health clubs, enables individuals working in different firms to know in what direction the market is moving and to develop the right product at the right time. This “information asymmetry” is what The Success of the US Software Industry 307 makes it so difficult for firms outside the network to compete. One has to be there to know what the market wants, and one has to be there to know what the hot new developments are. Another factor is the supply of labor. The firm cluster allows technical specialists to move from one firm to another with better prospects almost overnight without breaking up their social networks or uprooting their families.


pages: 518 words: 147,036

The Fissured Workplace by David Weil

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, barriers to entry, business process, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate raider, Corrections Corporation of America, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, employer provided health coverage, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global value chain, hiring and firing, income inequality, information asymmetry, intermodal, inventory management, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Rogoff, law of one price, loss aversion, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, occupational segregation, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, pre–internet, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, Rana Plaza, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, ultimatum game, union organizing, women in the workforce, Y2K, yield management

Large employers have more robust information because of their size, sophistication, and economies of scale in acquiring it. Workers, however, face “search frictions” in the labor market because of limited information on employment options as well as family, social, and other geographic ties that restrict their willingness to move. Information asymmetries and search frictions create some degree of monopsony power, meaning that large employers set wages rather than simply accepting the going rate in the labor market. This gives them greater latitude in establishing compensation policies, although the employer’s policies still must reflect the supply of workers and their contribution to the production of the firm.7 Some level of monopsony control and discretion in setting wages underlies the compensation and human resource policies set by major companies across the economy.

See also Piece rates Income inequality, changes in, 19–20, 23, 280–281, 293n19, 296n26 372n40, 372n45; and fissuring, 92, 281–282; and politics, 208–209 Independent contracting, 10, 314n37, 314n39, 341n7; in the logistics industry, 161–162; as form of employment, 270 Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act of 2007, 205 Independent contractors, 21, 24, 186, 205, 212, 236; misclassification of workers as, 10; and cable installation, 119–121; FedEx drivers as, 161; and petrochemical industry, 186–188 Independent operating companies, in hospitality industry, 151–152 Information asymmetries, in employment, 80 Information technology, 8–9, 305n53; role of, in employment restructuring, 4; and outsourcing, 52, 54–55; development of, 60–61 Internal labor markets: development of, 37–39; and wage determination, 39–40, 80–81, 296n24; decline of, 40–41, 87–88; alternative theories of, 80–81, 296n25, 296n26, 297n31, 298n38 International Labour Organization, 263, 366n42 International monitoring, and global supply chains, 262–265 Inventory: minimizing of, 162; turns, 294n4 IRAs, growth of, 45 Island Creek Coal, 104–105 ITT Corporation, 36 J-1 visa program, 2, 113, 118 Jacobs, Jane, 243, 265–266 Jani-King International, 134, 198 Janitorial services industry: and outsourcing, 55–56; as vanguard of fissuring, 90–91; origin of, 132–133; business model for franchising, 134–136; financial viability of franchising, 136–139; franchising and labor standards, 139–142; evolution of employment structures in, 220; and independent contractors, 327n31; and branding, 327n31; Jan-Pro Franchising International, 133–134; franchising agreement, 134–136 Job polarization, 284–285 Jobs, Steve, 51, 175 Journatic, 277–279 Justice for Janitors campaign, 327n31 Kahneman, Daniel, 82 Kaufmann, Patrick J., 127, 363n28 Kelling, George, 243, 249 KFC, 129, 323n4 KKR and Company, 47, 53 Knutson, Ryan, 109, 111 Kodak, 39 Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts.


pages: 515 words: 126,820

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott, Alex Tapscott

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Airbnb, altcoin, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Google bus, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, litecoin, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, money market fund, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, off grid, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, performance metric, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price mechanism, Productivity paradox, QR code, quantitative easing, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, renewable energy credits, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, seigniorage, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, social graph, social software, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, unorthodox policies, wealth creators, X Prize, Y2K, Zipcar

He believes these “new tools allow regulators to use a lighter touch.”27 The blockchain’s public nature—its transparency, its searchability—plus its automated settlement and immutable time stamps, allow regulators to see what’s happening, even set up alerts so that they don’t miss anything. DR. FAUST’S BLOCKCHAIN BARGAIN Banks and transparency rarely go hand in hand. Most financial actors gain competitive advantage from information asymmetries and greater know-how than their counterparties. However, the bitcoin blockchain as constructed is a radically transparent system. For banks, this means opening the kimono, so to speak. So how do we reconcile an open platform with the closed-door policy of banks? Austin Hill called it Wall Street’s “Faustian bargain,” an onerous trade-off.28 “People love the idea of not having to wait three days to settle transactions but having them cleared within minutes and knowing that they’re final and that they’re true,” said Hill.

“Banks are traditionally secret keepers,” according to Kaminska of the Financial Times. She explained that banks make good judgments about whom to lend to and how to process payments when they have good access to private information, and they get that information by promising to keep the secret. The more secrets they hold, the greater the information asymmetry and the greater their advantages, but those advantages have harmful systemic implications.38 So what’s to prevent huge corporations or powerful nation-states from capturing blockchain technologies for their own narrow interests? “Any consensus mechanism that you have is going to be susceptible to marketing—where powerful interests spend money trying to convince people to do a certain thing,” said Pair of BitPay.39 To be clear, we are not suggesting that corporations and governments should leave this technology alone.


pages: 197 words: 60,477

So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

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Apple II, bounce rate, Byte Shop, Cal Newport, capital controls, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, deliberate practice, financial independence, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, information asymmetry, job satisfaction, job-hopping, knowledge worker, Mason jar, medical residency, new economy, passive income, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, renewable energy credits, Results Only Work Environment, Richard Bolles, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, web application, winner-take-all economy

Of the many valuable skills he picked up from the project, one in particular was a “deep understanding” of how the international carbon market works. As part of this expertise, he learned that the United States had an obscure exchange, known as the renewable energy credits market. “Almost no one understood these things; it was a really fractured market with huge information asymmetry,” he recalls. Being one of the few people who actually knew how this market worked, Mike decided to start a business. He called it Village Green. The idea was simple: You give money to Mike, he does complicated transactions that only he and a few other energy regulation wonks really understand, and then he offers you certification that you’ve purchased enough carbon offsets for your business to be deemed carbon neutral.


pages: 363 words: 107,817

Modernising Money: Why Our Monetary System Is Broken and How It Can Be Fixed by Andrew Jackson (economist), Ben Dyson (economist)

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bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, credit crunch, David Graeber, debt deflation, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, land reform, London Interbank Offered Rate, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, unorthodox policies

One method of doing so would be to simply borrow more from banks through pre-existing arrangements, such as credit cards and overdrafts, i.e. to increase the uptake of already available credit. However, increases in wealth may also increase the total amount of credit available to individuals (this is known as the financial accelerator; see Box 4.D for more details). To briefly sum up, because of asymmetric information between borrowers and lenders, financial markets suffer from moral hazard and adverse selection problems. As such lending to households is largely determined by the amount of collateral they can offer – increases in the price of housing (which can be used as collateral) increase the quantity of credit available and decrease its price (Goodhart & Hofmann, 2007).6 Furthermore, to the extent that a bank’s loans are secured on property, increases in house prices may lower the amount of capital banks feel it is prudential to hold against these types of loans, and so increase their lending capacity.

Imperfect information between borrowers and lenders (i.e. the borrower knows more than the lender as to their likelihood to repay) creates ‘agency costs’ for banks. Borrowing is accordingly more expensive than it would otherwise be. Because of their ability to post collateral, higher net worth borrowers have lower agency costs. This reduces asymmetric information and moral hazard problems, making the bank more willing to lend. When asset prices rise during a boom, agency costs fall for those that hold the assets. This is the ‘financial accelerator’ mechanism: higher net worth during booms (due to higher asset prices) leads to lower agency costs and therefore increased borrowing.


pages: 119 words: 10,356

Topics in Market Microstructure by Ilija I. Zovko

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Brownian motion, computerized trading, continuous double auction, correlation coefficient, financial intermediation, Gini coefficient, information asymmetry, market design, market friction, market microstructure, Murray Gell-Mann, p-value, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, transaction costs

Provided agents prefer a lower expected execution time, their model predicts a positive relationship between volatility and limit order placement. Copeland and Galai (1983); Glosten and Milgrom (1985); Easley and O’Hara (1987); Glosten (1995); Foucault (1999); Easley et al. (2001) examine asymmetric information effects on order placement. Andersen (1996) modifies the Glosten and Milgrom (1985) model with the stochastic volatility and information flow perspective. Other models of trading in limit order markets include Cohen et al. (1981); Angel (1994); Harris (1998); Chakravarty and Holden (1995); Seppi (1997); Rock (1990); Parlour and Seppi (2003); Parlour (1998); Foucault et al. (2001); Domowitz and Wang (1994).


pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider

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Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, John Meriwether, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, money market fund, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

No private firm was willing to buy these toxic mortgages at what the seller thought was a reasonable price; they finally had found a sucker who would take them off their hands—called the American taxpayer. The administration attempts to assure us that they will protect the American people by insisting on buying the mortgages at the lowest price at auction. Evidently, Paulson didn’t learn the lessons of the information asymmetry that played such a large role in getting us into this mess. The banks will pass on their lousiest mortgages. Paulson may try to assure us that we will hire the best and brightest of Wall Street to make sure that this doesn’t happen. (Wall Street firms are already licking their lips at the prospect of a new source of revenues: fees from the U.S.


pages: 237 words: 64,411

Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Jerry Kaplan

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, bank run, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Brian Krebs, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, Flash crash, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, haute couture, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, information asymmetry, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, Satoshi Nakamoto, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Persuading you to prepay for shipping not only discourages you from shopping elsewhere, it makes rational buying impossible. This is at least one motivation for Amazon’s commendable focus on customer satisfaction; as long as you’re happy with the company, there’s little reason to question its pricing practices or to comparison shop—even if you could. But the company has taken the doctrine of information asymmetry one step further. Amazon’s network of warehouses is so extensive, it has adopted the remarkable policy of permitting its competitors to list their own products on Amazon’s website and use Amazon’s own facilities for fulfillment. You might think this is an egalitarian act that serves to level the playing field by giving the “little guy” access to the same advantages that Amazon enjoys.


pages: 257 words: 71,686

Swimming With Sharks: My Journey into the World of the Bankers by Joris Luyendijk

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, bank run, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Emanuel Derman, financial deregulation, financial independence, Flash crash, glass ceiling, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, hiring and firing, information asymmetry, inventory management, job-hopping, light touch regulation, London Whale, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, regulatory arbitrage, Satyajit Das, selection bias, shareholder value, sovereign wealth fund, the payments system, too big to fail

He believed that this is legitimate in business, provided clients have adequate information, adding that alongside this is ‘an important rule’ that clients ignore at their peril. ‘You have got to read the small print. You need to bring in a lawyer who explains it to you before you buy these things.’ Without a hint of irony he warned: ‘Otherwise there is information asymmetry.’ In the ‘real world’, of course, buyers are protected with numerous consumer rights laws. These allow purchasers the chance to return goods that are faulty or mis-sold, receive warranties on certain items or benefit from a cooling-off period on products bought through ‘distance selling’, for example.


pages: 263 words: 75,610

Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

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en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, full text search, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, information retrieval, information trail, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, John Markoff, lifelogging, moveable type in China, Network effects, packet switching, pattern recognition, RFID, slashdot, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Market for Lemons, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Vannevar Bush

This is the promise of what Manuel Castells has termed the “flexible production economy.” See Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, 154; and HarrisInteractive, The Harris Poll #4. According to the Harris Poll, 59 percent of consumers are uncomfortable with web sites that tailor their content or ads based on a person’s preferences. 2. This rests on the view that where information asymmetries persist, markets could become inefficient. Buyers could end up with low-quality goods they paid too high a price for—an inefficient allocation of resources. And if buying again, they may choose a good with the lowest price, knowing they do not know quality (see Akerlof, “The Market for ‘Lemons’: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism,” 488–500).


pages: 423 words: 149,033

The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid by C. K. Prahalad

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barriers to entry, business process, call centre, cashless society, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, deskilling, disintermediation, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, financial intermediation, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, income inequality, information asymmetry, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, microcredit, new economy, profit motive, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, shareholder value, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, time value of money, transaction costs, wealth creators, working poor

There was significant asymmetry in the access to information between the farmer, the traders in the mandi, small local processors, and the large processors such as ITC. By providing the farmer access to information about prices not only in his mandi but around the world, the e-Choupal system dramatically eliminates the asymmetric information that confines the subsistence farmer to a helpless bargaining position. The Ecosystem for Wealth Creation 71 Costs (Rs./ Metric Ton) 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 Farmer (Mandi) Commission 0 Handling and transit losses 50 Labor costs 50 Bagging and weighing 70 Transportation 100 ITC (Mandi) 100 10 70 75 250 Farmer (e-Choupal) 0 0 0 0 0 ITC (e-Choupal) 50 0 85 0 100 Figure 4.3 Savings for farmers compared to the traditional mandi system. 2.

The message is simple: For the BOP consumer, gaining access to modern technology and good products designed with their needs in mind enables them to take a huge step in improving their quality of life. Gaining Access to Knowledge We have already examined the benefits of access and transparency and how that impacts the asymmetric information that was (and is) the norm in most BOP markets. However, once BOP consumers get access to digital technologies, the pattern of access to knowledge changes. For example, in the EID Parry Agriline example used in the book, the farmers had a concern about the quality of a particular crop: betelnut.


pages: 205 words: 18,208

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? by David Brin

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affirmative action, airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, data acquisition, death of newspapers, Extropian, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, informal economy, information asymmetry, Iridium satellite, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, means of production, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, open economy, packet switching, pattern recognition, pirate software, placebo effect, Plutocrats, plutocrats, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Robert Bork, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telepresence, trade route, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game, Zimmermann PGP

If transparency is the requisite condition in science, democracy, and free markets, it should come as no surprise that economists—who work at the nexus of all three—find openness appealing. Many economists now lean toward attributing most kinds of injustice, bureaucracy, and societal inefficiency to asymmetric information flows—where one person or group knows something that others donʼt. Pick an institution, and these economists will talk about how the structure was chosen in response to some information-related problem. When they examine causes of “market failures” (things that make simple markets handle problems poorly) these experts list uneven knowledge right at the top.

All of these problems arise because of limited or restricted information flows. With improved knowledge on all sides, many governmental and nongovernmental organizations might lose their purpose, lose their constituencies, and possibly fade away. Caltech professor John O. Ledyard points out that “asymmetric information conveys a monopoly position on the holder of the information that markets cannot easily overcome.” Although they generally favor transparency, economists warn that information flows should be opened up evenly, lest one side or another gain unfair advantage during the transition—a gradualist approach that is supported throughout this book.


pages: 471 words: 124,585

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

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Admiral Zheng, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, Atahualpa, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, commoditize, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deglobalization, diversification, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, German hyperinflation, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, iterative process, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour mobility, Landlord’s Game, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Parag Khanna, pension reform, price anchoring, price stability, principal–agent problem, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, structural adjustment programs, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War

Distress: The insiders discern that expected profits cannot possibly justify the now exorbitant price of the shares and begin to take profits by selling. 5. Revulsion or discredit: As share prices fall, the outsiders all stampede for the exits, causing the bubble to burst altogether.3 Stock market bubbles have three other recurrent features. The first is the role of what is sometimes referred to as asymmetric information. Insiders - those concerned with the management of bubble companies - know much more than the outsiders, whom the insiders want to part from their money. Such asymmetries always exist in business, of course, but in a bubble the insiders exploit them fraudulently.4 The second theme is the role of cross-border capital flows.

advertising 196 Afghanistan 6 Africa: aid to 307 British investment in 293 China and 338-9 gold trade 25 slaves from 23 African-American people 249-50 ‘Africas within’ 13 age see pensions agriculture: East-West comparison 285 finance and 2 forward and future contracts 226 ‘improvements’ 235 and migration 110 rising and declining prices 53 and risk 184 Agtmael, Antoine van 288 Aguilera, Jaime Roldós 310-11 aid: conditions on 307 limited usefulness 307 and microfinance 279 to developing countries 274 Aldrich-Vreeland Act 301 Algeria 32 Allende, Salvador 212-13 Allison, Graham 223 All State insurance company 181-2 Al Qaeda 223 Alsace 144 Amboyna 130 American Civil War 91-7 American Dream Downpayment Act 267 American Home Mortgage 272 Americas, conquest of 285 Amsterdam 127 as financial centre 74-5 Amsterdam Exchange Bank (Wisselbank) 48-9 anarchists 17 Andersen (Arthur) 173 Andhra Pradesh 280 Angell, Norman 297 Angola 2 annuities 73-4 anthrax 223 anti-Darwinians 356 Antipodes 293 anti-Semitism 38 Antwerp 52 Applegarth, Adam 7 Arab: mathematics 32 oil 26 Arab-Israeli war 308 arbitrage 83 Argentina 98 British investment in 294 currencies 114 default crisis 110 Enron and 171 inflation 3 past prosperity 3 stock market 125 aristocracy 89 ARMs see mortgages, adjustable-rate arms/defence industry 298 . see also technological innovation art markets 6 Asia: aid and international investment 287 Asian crisis (1997-8) 10 and credit crunch 283 dependence on exports to US 10 dollar pegs 300 European trade 26 industrial growth and commodity prices 10 low-wage economies, production by 116 savings glut 336 sovereign wealth funds 9 asset-backed securities 6 and sub-prime mortgages 9 assets: asset markets 163 need for diversified portfolio 262 new types 353 asymmetric information 122 Atahuallpa 20 Australasia 52 Australia 233 Austria/Austro-Hungarian empire 90 bonds 86 currency collapses 107 and First World War 101 autarky 303 automobiles 160 Avignon 43 Babylonia see Mesopotamia Baer (Julius) bank 322 Bagehot, Walter 55 Baghdad 176 Bahamas see Lyford Cay Bailey, A.


pages: 171 words: 54,334

Barefoot Into Cyberspace: Adventures in Search of Techno-Utopia by Becky Hogge, Damien Morris, Christopher Scally

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, disintermediation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, information asymmetry, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, mass immigration, Menlo Park, moral panic, Mother of all demos, Naomi Klein, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks

Lamo has admitted that he offered Manning journalist-source confidentiality before the young soldier confessed, an offer upon which Lamo evidently reneged. Both Lamo and Poulsen appear on lists of the top ten most famous hackers of all time. Clearly both still like making “interesting trouble”. Rumours that Lamo is now working on asymmetrical information warfare tactics on behalf of the United States National Security Agency remain unconfirmed. Most probably they always will. * * * After Collateral Murder, Julian Assange went into hiding. But just over a month after Bradley Manning’s story hit the headlines, at noon on 25 July, he appeared again, fronting a press conference at London’s Frontline Club for WikiLeaks’ second high-profile leak of the year: the Afghan War Logs, around 75,000 classified internal US field reports sent from the war in Afghanistan.


pages: 1,242 words: 317,903

The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby

airline deregulation, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, balance sheet recession, bank run, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bretton Woods, central bank independence, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, energy security, equity premium, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, paper trading, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, price stability, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, secular stagnation, short selling, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, unorthodox policies, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y2K, yield curve, zero-sum game

For an exposition of the lessons learned from this error, see Ben Bernanke, “Credit in the Macroeconomy,” 50–70. 68. See Ben Bernanke, “Credit in the Macroeconomy.” Bernanke’s paper applied new research on asymmetric information to the field of monetary policy, pointing out that borrowers paid a premium to lenders that reflected lenders’ imperfect information. This premium increased when falling asset prices, higher interest rates, or a recession heightened doubts about creditworthiness. Although Greenspan would not have couched his arguments in terms of information asymmetries, he would certainly have recognized that stressed economic conditions could disrupt the credit channel. 69.


pages: 828 words: 232,188

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, information asymmetry, invention of the printing press, iterative process, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, life extension, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, means of production, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, Port of Oakland, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, price discrimination, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

An externality is a benefit or harm imposed on third parties, such as the benefit an employer gets when I have paid for my own education, or the pollution that fouls the drinking water of a community downstream from a factory. In other cases, economic transactions may involve information asymmetries; for example, the seller of a used car may know about defects not readily apparent to the buyer, while a drug maker may be aware of clinical studies that show its products are ineffective or even harmful, which are unavailable to potential patients. Governments have classically played a role in regulating externalities and information asymmetries. In the case of education and basic infrastructure such as roads, ports, and water, the positive externality associated with it is great enough that governments traditionally provide a basic level to citizens for free or else at highly subsidized prices.


pages: 757 words: 193,541

The Practice of Cloud System Administration: DevOps and SRE Practices for Web Services, Volume 2 by Thomas A. Limoncelli, Strata R. Chalup, Christina J. Hogan

active measures, Amazon Web Services, anti-pattern, barriers to entry, business process, cloud computing, commoditize, continuous integration, correlation coefficient, database schema, Debian, defense in depth, delayed gratification, DevOps, domain-specific language, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, finite state, Firefox, Google Glasses, information asymmetry, Infrastructure as a Service, intermodal, Internet of things, job automation, job satisfaction, load shedding, loose coupling, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, Marc Andreessen, place-making, platform as a service, premature optimization, recommendation engine, revision control, risk tolerance, side project, Silicon Valley, software as a service, sorting algorithm, statistical model, Steven Levy, supply-chain management, Toyota Production System, web application, Yogi Berra

As a result, operations is no longer put into the position of having to decide whether to permit a launch. Being in such a position makes them “the bad guys” every time they say no, and leads developers to think of them as “the enemy to be defeated.” More importantly, it is unfair to put operations in this position because of the information asymmetry inherent in this relationship. Developers know the code better than operations and therefore are in a better position to perform testing and judge the quality of the release. Operations staff, though they are unlikely to admit it, are not mind readers. 19.4.3 Everyone Benefits For developers, the Error Budget creates incentives to improve reliability by offering them something they value highly: the opportunity to do more releases.

Development for a given service is usually the result of many subteams. Each team wants to launch frequently. Yet one team can blow the budget for all teams if they are not careful. Nobody wants to be the last team to adopt a technology or framework that improves launch success. Also, there is less information asymmetry between developer teams. Therefore teams can set high standards for code reviews and other such processes. (Code reviews are discussed in Section 12.7.6.) This does not mean that Google considers it okay to be down for an hour each year. If you recall from Section 1.3, user-visible services are often composed of the output of many other services.


pages: 342 words: 94,762

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy

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algorithmic trading, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, impulse control, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, Menlo Park, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nick Leeson, paper trading, Paul Graham, payday loans, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, six sigma, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel

See “Tracy Morgan: I’m Going Back to Nashville to Apologize,” TMZ.com, June 13, 2011, http://www.tmz.com/2011/06/13/tracy-morgan-glaad-anti-gay-comedy-routine-homophobic-stab-son-homeless-ali-forney-center-new-york-tennessee. 14. Dave Itzkoff, “Comedian, Chastened, Gets Back to Laughs,” New York Times, June 27, 2011, p. 1. Chapter 10 1. Akerlof and Stiglitz shared the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Michael Spence for their work on information asymmetry, the idea that markets do not efficiently allocate resources when there is a large gap between the information available to sellers and buyers. Akerlof’s most famous paper—one of the most frequently cited papers in the history of economics—is George A. Akerlof, “The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 84(3, 1970): 488–500.


pages: 576 words: 105,655

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, debt deflation, deindustrialization, disintermediation, diversification, en.wikipedia.org, ending welfare as we know it, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Irish property bubble, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Philip Mirowski, price stability, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, savings glut, short selling, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, unorthodox policies, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

To the extent that the state has a role, it devolves to “doing nothing” since doing something will only produce price distortions that will upset market efficiency. Finance rather liked these ideas because they justified letting the financial system do whatever it liked, since apart from deliberate fraud and discounting the manipulation of informational asymmetries (where the bank knows more than you do, leading to insider trading), finance could, by definition, do no wrong. If you think markets work this way, the very notion of regulating finance becomes nonsense. Self-interested actors, whether individuals or financial firms, acting in an efficient market will make optimal trading decisions, and these outcomes will improve everyone’s welfare.


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, women in the workforce

To this end, a lot can be achieved by changing the relationship between power and information. Info-capitalism is based on asymmetry: the global corporations get their market power from knowing more – more than their customers, suppliers and small competitors. The simple principle behind postcapitalism should be that the pursuit of information asymmetry is wrong – except when it comes to privacy, anonymity and security issues. In addition, the aim should be to push information and automation into types of work where they are held back at present because cheap labour removes the need to innovate. In a modern car factory there is a production line, and there are still workers with spanners and drills.


pages: 355 words: 92,571

Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, diversification, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, money market fund, moral hazard, moveable type in China, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Veblen good, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

One reason is that share prices are not set by private investors – the ‘representative household’, in the economic jargon – but by fund managers to whom savers and pension fund trustees have delegated authority for managing their money. These fund managers, the agents, may have a very different agenda to that of savers and trustees, the principals. They also have more and better information about companies and markets. So there is, as the economists put it, both a principal–agent problem and an information asymmetry problem. These lead to conflicts of interest. The technology bubble in the second half of the 1990s provides a good example of how the conflict works. Dot.com stocks rose initially on the basis of a conviction that technology had fundamentally changed the way the economy worked, so that expectations of future profits spiralled while conventional methods of company valuation were abandoned.


pages: 518 words: 107,836

How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy) by Benjamin Peters

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Davies, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, scientific mainstream, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technoutopianism, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, transaction costs, Turing machine

For the market to be the ideal organizational mode, some economists assume that rational actors will rank the order of their preferences linearly: if rational actors prefer option A over B as well as option B over C, they also will prefer option A over C. Yet this view of the market has been challenged in recent decades. Markets hide transaction costs and information asymmetries. Behavioral economists have demonstrated how under a number of conditions (such as fear, regret, the threat of loss, cognitive dissonance, or peer pressure) the rational homo economicus is a fiction: a person may prefer apples to bananas, bananas to cantaloupes, and cantaloupes to apples, and there is no guarantee that there exists a rational solution to voting systems or daily choices involving three or more actors.24 By contrast, the concept of hierarchy (from the Greek term ἱεραρχία, “rule by priests”) reaches back fifteen centuries to religious roots.


pages: 383 words: 81,118

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans, Richard Schmalensee

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Airbnb, Alvin Roth, big-box store, business process, cashless society, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, creative destruction, Deng Xiaoping, if you build it, they will come, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Jean Tirole, John Markoff, Lyft, M-Pesa, market friction, market microstructure, mobile money, multi-sided market, Network effects, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QR code, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, Victor Gruen, winner-take-all economy

page=3 (data for 1998). 5. World Bank, “Mobile Cellular Subscriptions (Per 100 People),” http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.CEL.SETS.P2?page=3 (data for 1998). 6. World Bank, “Rail Lines (Total Route-km),” http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.RRS.TOTL.KM?page=3 (data for 1998). 7. Xue-Feng He and Li Yuan, “Information Asymmetry, Signaling Game, and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Financing in West China,” Eighth West Lake International Conference SMB, November 2006, http://www.seiofbluemountain.com/en/search/detail.php?id=3139. 8. World Bank, “GDP (Constant 2005 US$),” http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD?


pages: 242 words: 68,019

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, assortative mating, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population

As Hayek wrote, “In a system in which the knowledge of the relevant facts is dispersed among many people, prices can act to coördinate the separate actions of different people.”4 The idea of information also helped economists understand some important market failures. George Akerlof became famous by showing that markets could fail to operate when people had asymmetric information about the quality of the goods they wanted to exchange.5 On a parallel front, Herbert Simon, a polymath who contributed to economics, organizational theory, and artificial intelligence, introduced the idea of bounded rationality, which focused on the behavior of economic actors who had limited information about the world.


pages: 240 words: 73,209

The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment by Guy Spier

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Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, Checklist Manifesto, Clayton Christensen, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Exxon Valdez, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Arrow, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, NetJets, pattern recognition, pre–internet, random walk, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, winner-take-all economy, young professional, zero-sum game

Richard Zeckhauser is a professor of political economy and a champion bridge player who chairs the Investment Decisions and Behavioral Finance Executive Program at Harvard. An expert on economic behavior in acutely uncertain situations, he has authored papers with titles like “Investing in the Unknown and Unknowable.” For investors, the beauty of bridge lies in the fact that it involves elements of chance, probabilistic thinking, and asymmetric information. When the cards are dealt, the only ones you can look at are your own. But as the cards are played, the probabilistic and asymmetric nature of the game becomes exquisite. For example, during the bidding, I might ask myself a question like this: “Given that the player to my right has bid two clubs, how does that update my probabilistic assessment of what cards he’s holding?”

Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge by Cass R. Sunstein

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affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, availability heuristic, Build a better mousetrap, c2.com, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, framing effect, hindsight bias, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, market bubble, market design, minimum wage unemployment, prediction markets, profit motive, rent control, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, slashdot, stem cell, The Wisdom of Crowds, winner-take-all economy

Some affirmative evidence can be found in J. Scott Armstrong, “Combining Forecasts,” in Principles of Forecasting, ed. J. Scott Armstrong (Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2001), 419–20, 427, 433–35. 11. See William P. Bottom et al., “Propagation of Individual Bias through Group Judgment: Error in the Treatment of Asymmetrically Informative Signals,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 25 (2002): 152–54. 12. For the arithmetic: Suppose that a group has N voters, and that they are choosing between two alternatives. Each voter has the same probability, p, of being right, with p being somewhere between 50 percent and 100 percent.


pages: 350 words: 109,220

In FED We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic by David Wessel

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Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, break the buck, central bank independence, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, debt deflation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, housing crisis, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, price stability, quantitative easing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, Socratic dialogue, too big to fail

He was exercising the Fed’s monetary muscle, raising interest rates to double-digit levels to bring down inflation at the cost of a severe recession. At Stanford, seminar rooms and coffee rooms were thick with talk about the ways markets work or don’t work when one side has much better (“asymmetric”) information than the others and about the divergence of the interest of principals (such as shareholders) and those of their agents (corporate executives), especially when the agent has more information than the other. Bernanke applied that theory to the way banks and borrowers work, making his initial mark with the American Economic Review article on the causes of the Depression that was published in 1983, a couple of years after Bernanke finished it.


pages: 430 words: 109,064

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson, James Kwak

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Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, income per capita, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Satyajit Das, sovereign wealth fund, The Myth of the Rational Market, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve

In a 1995 paper, Robert Merton wrote, “Looking at financial innovations … one sees them as the force driving the global financial system towards its goal of greater economic efficiency. In particular, innovations involving derivatives can improve efficiency by expanding opportunities for risk sharing, by lowering transaction costs and by reducing asymmetric information and agency costs.”45 Two years later, Alan Greenspan said, The unbundling of financial products is now extensive throughout our financial system. Perhaps the most obvious example is the ever-expanding array of financial derivatives available to help firms manage interest rate risk, other market risks, and, increasingly, credit risks.… Another far-reaching innovation is the technology of securitization—a form of derivative—which has encouraged unbundling of the production processes for many credit services.… These and other developments facilitating the unbundling of financial products have surely improved the efficiency of our financial markets.46 As the financial sector became a bigger part of the U.S. economy, the celebration of financial innovation only increased.


pages: 397 words: 112,034

What's Next?: Unconventional Wisdom on the Future of the World Economy by David Hale, Lyric Hughes Hale

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, diversification, energy security, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global village, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Just-in-time delivery, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, passive investing, payday loans, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system, women in the workforce, yield curve

See Obrador, Andrés Manuel López (AMLO) anchoring, 288 Argentina, 48, 50, 51 Asia, consumption in, 87–89; economic growth in, xx–xxi, 258; equity market valuations, 77–78; investment challenges in, 82–85; investment trends in, 90–91; labor costs in, 86–87; structural shift in, 84–85; yield curves, 82–83. See also specific countries Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APEC), 220 Aso, Taro, 105 asset bubbles, 94, 240–241 asset prices, 81 asymmetric information, 286 Australia, 139–150; banking system, xxiii, 141–142; current account deficit, 140; emissions trading scheme in, 226; exports, 145–146; global financial crisis and, xxiii–xxiv, 140–141, 149–150; impact of global trade contraction on, 145–146; macroeconomic policies in, 146–149; politics of, 150; residential property market in, 143–145 Australian dollar, 146 Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), 142 availability, 288 Azad University, 210–211 Bank for International Settlements, 246 bank loans, 237–238 Bank of Canada, 22–23 Bank of England, 154, 244, 252 Bank of Japan (BOJ), xxi, 95–98, 101 banks/banking sector, 233–248; in Australia, 141–142; bailouts of, 3–4; in Canada, 15–16; capital requirements and, 233–235, 237–238, 241–244, 246–248; in Nigeria, 126–127; regulatory framework, xxvii, 15–16, 233–234, 244–245; in Sub-Saharan Africa, 120; systemic problems in, 235–241; in US, 235–241 Basle Committee on Banking Supervision, 233, 234, 242–244, 246–248 Basle I, 234, 235, 237 Basle II, 15–16, 235 Basle III, 233, 246, 248 Basle IV, 246 Basri, Carole, xxviii–xxix Bazaar Merchants Association, 213–214 beggar thy neighbor policies, 24–25 Bernanke, Ben, xvii, 7 Bishop, Bill, 296 bond markets, 159 bonds, 258 bond yields, 6 Botswana, 118 bounded rationality, xxix, 286 Bowles, Erskine, 11 BP oil spill, 41, 185–186 Brazil, xvii, 7, 48; economic growth in, 51, 52; fiscal deficit, 257; inflation, 51; oil industry in, xxv, 41–42; politics, 33; reforms in, 49 Bressand, Albert, xxv British pound, 153–154, 161 broad money, 72–73, 240 “broken windows” scenario, 277–278 Brynjolfsson, Erik, 296 budget deficits.


pages: 276 words: 82,603

Birth of the Euro by Otmar Issing

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Bretton Woods, business climate, capital controls, central bank independence, currency peg, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, market fundamentalism, money market fund, moral hazard, oil shock, open economy, price anchoring, price stability, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Y2K, yield curve

See, for example, the special issue ‘Transparency, communication and commitment’ (March 2007) of the International Journal of Central Banking with the contributions by C. E. Walsh, P. M. Geraats, A. H. Kara, M. Ehrmann and M. Fratzscher (available at www.ijcb.org/journal/ijcb07q1.htm). For an early treatment, see A. Cukierman and A. H. Meltzer, ‘A theory of ambiguity, credibility, and inflation under discretion and asymmetric information’, Econometrica, 54:5 (1986). 166 • The ECB – monetary policy for a stable euro only control the (very) short end of the interest rate spectrum. The influence of monetary policy on the long end depends very largely on the markets’ expectations of the central bank’s policy actions in the future and of future inflation.


pages: 350 words: 103,988

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets by John McMillan

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, Anton Chekhov, Asian financial crisis, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, Deng Xiaoping, experimental economics, experimental subject, fear of failure, first-price auction, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, George Gilder, global village, Hernando de Soto, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job-hopping, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, lone genius, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market friction, market microstructure, means of production, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, ought to be enough for anybody, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, proxy bid, purchasing power parity, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Stewart Brand, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, yield management

Examining markets up close, the new economics emphasizes market frictions and how they are kept in check. In 2001, this work received recognition with the award of the Nobel Prize in economics to George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz for laying the foundation, as the Nobel citation said, “for a general theory of markets with asymmetric information.” Expressed in mathematics and impenetrable jargon, these new ideas reside obscurely in the technical journals. They have, however, a deeply practical content.8 Exchange is “one of the purest and most primitive forms of human socialization,” the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote in 1900; it creates “a society, in place of a mere collection of individuals.”9 A market is a social construction.


pages: 499 words: 152,156

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

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conceptual framework, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, financial independence, Gini coefficient, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, land reform, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mohammed Bouazizi, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rolodex, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional

Don’t bother kissing ass.” When it was Gong’s turn, she took a seat at the head of the conference table and informed the new hires that they were now in “the happiness business.” She did not smile. She rarely did when she talked about the happiness business. She focused instead on “price/performance ratios” and “information asymmetry.” She was in office attire: glasses, ponytail, no makeup, and a pink Adidas jacket with a ragged left cuff. The young men and women before her were joining a staff of nearly five hundred. Your customers, she told them, will be virtually indistinguishable from you: migrants, alone in the city, separated from love by “three towering mountains”—no money, no time, and no connections.

Making Globalization Work by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Doha Development Round, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Gunnar Myrdal, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, incomplete markets, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), inventory management, invisible hand, John Markoff, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, microcredit, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, oil rush, open borders, open economy, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, reserve currency, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, statistical model, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

In this conservative view, economics is about efficiency, and issues of equity (which, like beauty, so often lies in the eyes of the beholder) should be left to politics. Today, the intellectual defense of market fundamentalism has largely disappeared.2 My research on the economics of information showed that whenever information is imperfect, in particular when there are information asymmetries—where some individuals know something that others do not (in other words, always)—the reason that the invisible hand seems invisible is that it is not there.3 Without appropriate government regulation and intervention, markets do not lead to economic efficiency.' In recent years we have seen dramatic illustrations of these theoretical insights.


pages: 515 words: 132,295

Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business by Rana Foroohar

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3D printing, accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Alvin Roth, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, bank run, Basel III, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, High speed trading, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, John Markoff, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, labour mobility, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vanguard fund, zero-sum game

David Swensen, the chief investment officer at Yale University, who’s run its endowment since 1985 with stellar results, put it succinctly: “The fundamental market failure in the mutual fund industry involves the interaction between sophisticated, profit-seeking providers of financial services and naïve, return-seeking consumers of investment products. The drive for profits by Wall Street and the mutual fund industry overwhelms the concept of fiduciary responsibility, leading to an all too predictable outcome: …the powerful financial services industry exploits vulnerable individual investors.”49 Information asymmetry will always work in favor of Wall Street. But asset managers could be forced to take a fiduciary pledge, a kind of Socratic oath for bankers, just like the one medical professionals must take, which would bind them to serving their customers rather than primarily themselves. Those found to be in violation of such an oath could be subject to strict penalties and big fines.


pages: 484 words: 136,735

Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis by Anatole Kaletsky

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bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, global rebalancing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

It is, however, the least radical of the alternative approaches because it does not challenge the central assumption of REH—that booms, busts, and recessions are all caused by various types of market failure and therefore that breakdowns in laissez-faire capitalism could, at least in principle, be prevented by making markets more perfect, for example, by disseminating information or strengthening the regulations against fraud. Partly because of this ideological compatibility, academic economics has been quite willing to embrace the behavioral approach. Indeed, the work on bounded rationality by Herbert Simon, game theory by Vernon Smith, experimental economics by Daniel Kahneman, and asymmetrical information by George Akerloff, Joe Stiglitz, and Michael Spence have all been rewarded with Nobel prizes. More challenging to orthodox economics is the mathematical work in chaos theory and advanced control engineering, which suggests that most of the mathematical techniques used by precrisis academic economics were simply wrong.


pages: 524 words: 143,993

The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned--And Have Still to Learn--From the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

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air freight, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandatory minimum, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market fragmentation, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, very high income, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

Thus, not only banks but other investors found themselves holding toxic assets created by the ‘originate and distribute’ model of finance that increasingly replaced the traditional ‘lend and hold’ model in the US in the run-up to the crisis: thus institutions made loans, to be packaged into composite securities and sold on to outside investors, instead of holding those loans on their own books as they used to do. As we have seen, the argument for this wide distribution of assets had been that they would end up being held by those best able to understand the risks. In practice, however, many of them ended up being held by those least able to understand the risks (see Chapter Two above). This is asymmetric information at work. This was partly, no doubt, because better-informed sellers emphasized the upside of complex products, but did not go out of their way to make clear their downside. It is partly because the combination of greed with ignorance is a perennial feature of customers in financial markets.


pages: 500 words: 145,005

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler

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3Com Palm IPO, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, impulse control, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, law of one price, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market clearing, Mason jar, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, More Guns, Less Crime, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, New Journalism, nudge unit, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, presumed consent, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

Barberis, Nicholas, Ming Huang, and Tano Santos. 2001. “Prospect Theory and Asset Prices.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 116, no. 1: 1–53. Barner, Martin, Francesco Feri, and Charles R. Plott. 2005. “On the Microstructure of Price Determination and Information Aggregation with Sequential and Asymmetric Information Arrival in an Experimental Asset Market.” Annals of Finance 1, no. 1: 73–107. Barro, Robert J. 1974. “Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?” Journal of Political Economy 82, no. 6: 1095–117. Basu, Sanjoy. 1977. “Investment Performance of Common Stocks in Relation to Their Price-Earnings Ratios: A Test of the Efficient Market Hypothesis.”


pages: 424 words: 115,035

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, market bubble, means of production, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, open borders, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, post-industrial society, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

After all, the logic of market capitalism is one that licenses the pursuit of self-interest and, given unlimited potential rewards, must expect traders to be aggressively advantage-seeking.18 Nevertheless, the status of regulation in the system is precarious as the foundational ideology of free markets presumes that freedom of contract and caveat emptor are basically sufficient to keep competitors honest. More importantly, although rules and regulations are vital for the functioning of markets as they establish trust by protecting market participants from asymmetric information, it is in the nature of capitalist competition that profit-seekers will try to evade or circumvent them. Illegal or sublegal just as innovative trading – the two often being the same – tend to be more profitable, due to being riskier, than trading in the usual paths. This is why regulations that limit freedom of trade are typically attacked by enterprising traders, calling forth considerable intelligence and inventiveness in efforts to render them ineffectual.


pages: 589 words: 147,053

The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth by Robin Hanson

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8-hour work day, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, business process, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, demographic transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, experimental subject, fault tolerance, financial intermediation, Flynn Effect, hindsight bias, information asymmetry, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, lone genius, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, prediction markets, rent control, rent-seeking, reversible computing, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, statistical model, stem cell, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

Soto, Christopher, Oliver John, Samuel Gosling, and Jeff Potter. 2011. “Age Differences in Personality Traits from 10 to 65: Big Five Domains and Facets in a Large Cross-Sectional Sample.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100(2): 330–348. Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, and Alexandre Ziegler. 2003. “Asymmetric Information about Workers’ Productivity as a Cause for Inefficient Long Working Hours.” Labour Economics 10: 727–747. Spengler, Marion, Martin Brunner, Rodica Damian, Oliver Lüdtke, Romain Martin, and Brent Roberts. 2015. “Student characteristics and behaviors at age 12 predict occupational success 40 years later over and above childhood IQ and parental socioeconomic status.”


pages: 515 words: 142,354

The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Alex Hyde-White

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bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, light touch regulation, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market friction, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, open economy, paradox of thrift, pension reform, pensions crisis, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working-age population

The advocates of the euro said that it would enable financial products to move more freely, since the exchange rate risk had been eliminated. In their mind, financial innovation meant designing better products to meet the needs of consumers and firms. That’s the standard neoliberal theory. More modern theories emphasize imperfectly informed and often irrational consumers and firms operating in markets with imperfect and asymmetric information, where profits can typically be enhanced more by exploiting these market imperfections than in any other way. Nobel Prize–winning economists George Akerlof and Rob Shiller document this widespread behavior in their brilliant book Phishing for Phools—using the term for Internet scammers who systematically “fish for fools.”16 With financial products moving ever more easily throughout Europe, the opportunity to take advantage of a whole continent of people who might be duped into buying financial products that were not suitable for them proved irresistible.


pages: 461 words: 128,421

The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street by Justin Fox

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, Cass Sunstein, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discovery of the americas, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, Edward Thorp, endowment effect, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, George Akerlof, Henri Poincaré, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, impulse control, index arbitrage, index card, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, libertarian paternalism, linear programming, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market design, Myron Scholes, New Journalism, Nikolai Kondratiev, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, pushing on a string, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, transaction costs, tulip mania, value at risk, Vanguard fund, Vilfredo Pareto, volatility smile, Yogi Berra

To name just a few such market models in the recent literature: “adaptive rational equilibrium,” “efficient learning,” “adaptive markets hypothesis,” “rational belief equilibria.”32 That, and Bill Sharpe now runs agent-based market simulations on his laptop to see how they play out. CHANGE WOULD APPEAR TO BE coming. It’s not here yet, though, and for now we have to make do with the muddle of neoclassical and behavioral and experimental and asymmetric-information economics and finance that we have. What practical lessons can be drawn from this muddle? First, it is hard to beat the market. If you have money to invest, the only sensible place to start is with the assumption that the market is smarter than you. You don’t have to stop there. But if you do come up with an idea for beating the market, you need a model that explains why everybody else isn’t already doing the same thing that you are.

The Future of Technology by Tom Standage

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air freight, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, creative destruction, disintermediation, distributed generation, double helix, experimental economics, full employment, hydrogen economy, industrial robot, informal economy, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, labour market flexibility, Marc Andreessen, market design, Menlo Park, millennium bug, moral hazard, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, railway mania, rent-seeking, RFID, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, software as a service, spectrum auction, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, technology bubble, telemarketer, transcontinental railway, Y2K

Insecurity, he says, “is often due to perverse incentives, rather than to the lack of suitable technical protection mechanisms.” The person or company best placed to protect a system may, for example, be insufficiently motivated to do so, because the costs of failure fall on others. Such problems, Mr Anderson argues, are best examined using economic concepts, such as externalities, asymmetric information, adverse selection and moral hazard. A classic example is that of fraud involving cash dispensers (automated teller machines). Mr Anderson investigated a number of cases of “phantom withdrawals”, which customers said they never made, at British banks. He concluded that almost every time the security technology was working correctly, and that misconfiguration or mismanagement of the machines by the banks was to blame for the error.


pages: 654 words: 191,864

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

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Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, cognitive bias, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, demand response, endowment effect, experimental economics, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, framing effect, hindsight bias, index card, information asymmetry, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, medical residency, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, nudge unit, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, pre–internet, price anchoring, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, The Chicago School, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, union organizing, Walter Mischel, Yom Kippur War

Weber, and Ido Erev, “Decisions from Experience and the Effect of Rare Events in Risky Choice,” Psychological Science 15 (2004): 534–39. Ralph Hertwig and Ido Erev, “The Description-Experience Gap in Risky Choice,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13 (2009): 517–23. not yet settled: Liat Hadar and Craig R. Fox, “Information Asymmetry in Decision from Description Versus Decision from Experience,” Judgment and Decision Making 4 (2009): 317–25. “chances of rare events”: Hertwig and Erev, “The Description-Experience Gap.” 31: Risk Policies inferior option BC: The calculation is straightforward. Each of the two combinations consists of a sure thing and a gamble.