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CHAPTER 11 UNCERTAINTY AND GAME THORY

I. CHAPTER OVERVIEW

In our discussions up to this point, firms and households have approached their decisions armed with complete and perfect information; actors in the economic play, in short, have been blessed with a clear picture of their economic circumstance and an equally clear portrait of the ramifications of their decisions. It is, however, never that easy. In real life, imprecise and fuzzy perceptions of economic circumstance complicate every decision, and economists have begun to consider seriously the effects of these complications. Chapter 11 introduces you to two major avenues of analysis. Section A looks into decisions made under circumstances of uncertainty from two sources. The first is derived from the fact that the future is unknown. The best information available is frequently no better than a collection of possible futures with no prospect of resolution before a decision must be made. The second is derived from the potential that sudden and unforeseen events might dramatically alter even the basic components of an actor’s economic condition. Hedging, speculation, and insurance all come into play in this arena. Section B takes explicit note of the interdependence of decisions taken by more than one actor. The range of outcomes that one person must consider as he or she makes a specific decision can easily depend not only upon prior decisions by other people but also upon their response to the very decision being considered. Economists have long applied game-theoretic constructs to the analysis of strategic interaction among decisions, and those applications are now being assimilated into mainstream economic theory even as they grow significantly in number.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After you have read Chapter 11 in your text and completed the exercises in this Study Guide chapter, you should be able to:

1. Define a role in the economy for speculators, arbitrage, and hedging.

2. Illustrate the relationship between risk aversion and diminishing marginal utility of income, and

apply these concepts to the notion of risk spreading in insurance and capital markets.

3. Understand the importance of moral hazard and adverse selection in establishing insurance markets

that function properly.

4. Define and interpret the basic terms used in game theory: players, strategies, payoffs, and payoff

tables.

5. Use payoff tables to describe optimal strategies for players in a game. Find a dominant strategy for a

firm, if one exists.

6. Use payoff tables to describe the concept of Nash equilibrium as a noncooperative solution to a

game. Apply these concepts to “real world” scenarios in which unregulated markets may or may not lead to efficient equilibria.

III.

REVIEW OF KEY CONCEPTS

Match the following terms from column A with their definitions in column B.

A

B

Speculation

1.

Implies that the displeasure from losing a given amount of income is greater

than the pleasure from gaining the same amount of income.

Arbitrage

2.

The profits (or losses) earned when a particular set of strategies are pursued.

Hedging

3.

Arises when the people with the highest risk are the most likely ones to buy

insurance.

Risk aversion

4.

Occurs when each player in a game chooses his or her own strategy without

collusion or cooperation.

Diminishing

5.

Actions or sets of actions that a player follows.

marginal utility

of income

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Moral hazard

7.

Involves making profits from the fluctuations in prices.

Adverse selection

8.

Occurs when no player can improve his or her payoff given the other player’s

strategy.

Players

9.

Economic agents, or actors, who are engaged in strategic behavior.

Strategies

l0.

Implies that individuals who own insurance engage in riskier behavior than they

would engage in without insurance.

Payoffs

l1.

The purchase of a good or asset in one market for immediate resale in another

Nash equilibrium

market. 12. Takes risks that would be large for one person and spreads them around so that

Dominant

they are small risks for a large number of people. 13. The activity of avoiding a risk by making a counteracting sale or investment.

strategy

Noncooperative

14.

Arises when one player has a best strategy no matter what strategy the other

equilibrium

player follows.

Cooperative

15. Situations in which the payoffs are determined primarily by

equilibrium

relative merit.

Winner-take-all

16. Exists when players are expected to keep promises and carry out

games

threats.

Credibility

17. Comes when players act in unison to find strategies that will maximize their joint payoffs.

IV. SUMMARY AND CHAPTER OUTLINE

This section summarizes the key concepts from the chapter.

A. Economics of Risk and Uncertainty

1. In the “real world” life is filled with uncertainty and risks. Some of these risks are more important than

others, to be sure, but almost every decision that we make as economists involves some degree of uncertainty

about the course of future events. Uncertainty means that we do not know for sure what the future holds, while risk implies that there is some probability that an unfavorable event will occur in the future.

2. Due to the existence of uncertainty, speculators look to buy low and sell high across geographically

defined markets, across time, and across states of nature. Speculators often exchange goods without taking

possession of them; the point is not to buy what they need to use but rather to buy what can fetch a higher price in the future.

3. Speculators have three important functions. First, they buy goods in regions in which they are abundant

and sell them in regions in which they are relatively scarce. For example, a speculator might buy apples from small farmers in Washington State and sell them to grocers in Arizona. This redistributes goods from areas in which oversupply would drive prices down to areas in which undersupply would drive prices up, and thus helps to equalize prices across markets. Second, speculators buy goods when they are in abundance and commanding relatively low prices and sell them later when they are more scarce and commanding relatively high prices. This lowers supply in times of abundance, raises the supply in times of scarcity, and smoothes prices over time, providing greater stability in markets. For example, a speculator might buy the same apples from small farmers in Washington State during the month of September when apples are plentiful; after storing them for six months, the speculator might then resell the apples to an applesauce company, when apples are much less plentiful. This helps to smooth prices over the product’s life cycle. This behavior is referred to as arbitrage. Third, speculators engage in hedging. This involves the speculator in absorbing risks that others do not want to bear. For example, if the small orchard owners are afraid that the price of apples will fall precipitously before they get their crops to market, they might decide to sell the future crop to the speculator in June for a fixed price. The speculator actually purchases the crop in September for the agreed-upon price, hoping to

immediately resell for a profit. Thus, the farmer is able to limit his or her uncertainty, and the speculator is left with the potential profits or losses on the sale of the apples.

4. The self motivated actions of speculators and arbitragers tend to moderate price and consumption

instability in a wide variety of markets. Acting in their own individual best interest, these people generate an improvement in social welfare above and beyond the level of their individual gains. The source of this gain can be found in the principle of diminishing marginal utility, because it is diminishing marginal utility that leads

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to the conclusion that stable consumption is economically beneficial. The underlying point is simply put:

Starting at some average level of consumption, diminishing marginal utility means that an increase in utility

generated by the next unit of consumption is smaller than the increase in utility generated by the previous unit of consumption. When a product is abundant, marginal utility and prices are low; when a product is scarce, marginal utility and prices are high. By smoothing consumption over time and space, speculators are able to dampen these price swings, leading to greater economic efficiency.

5. A person is risk-averse when the displeasure from losing a given amount of income is greater than the

pleasure from gaining the same amount of income. Simpler put, a risk-averse individual experiences diminishing marginal utility of income due to the fact that an additional dollar will bring less utility than the previous dollar. The individual will lose more utility with the loss of a dollar than he or she would gain from

acquiring a dollar. Therefore, a person who is risk-averse prefers a sure thing, or a “dollar in hand,” to uncertain levels of consumption, other things equal.

6. Insurance companies are involved in risk spreading. This means that they take what would be a large risk

for any single person and “pool” it, or spread it across a large number of people so that each individual’s share is relatively small. For example, most people who own cars buy auto insurance. In fact, some states require owners to purchase insurance. There is some probability that any single driver will have an accident on any given day; that probability is higher for some people and in some areas. Insurance companies spread this risk over a larger number of people and across a wider area. Risk-averse individuals are willing to pay premiums, at

least to some degree, to avoid the risk of an uncertain future. Private insurance markets can exist when there are many independent events and when there is little chance of moral hazard and/or adverse selection. Social insurance is sometimes provided in situations which cannot support private insurance markets. In capital markets, this same principle holds. Oftentimes, a new venture is too risky for a single investor, but a group of investors working together may each be willing to accept a smaller share of the total risk.

7. Sometimes markets fail because people do not have perfect information about the uncertainty and risks that

they face. Moral hazard occurs when ownership of insurance reduces an individual’s incentive to avoid risky behavior. For example, knowing he has insurance, a particular motorist might drive faster than he otherwise would. Adverse selection occurs because the people who buy insurance are often those most likely to need it. The example in your text on health insurance is a good one. In the United States, most people who own health

insurance are relatively wealthy and/or sick. Hence, the pool of insured people is not representative of the entire population; those who consider themselves relatively healthy may use their money on other things and forgo insurance. This drives rates up for those in the pool, and limits the gains to insurance.

8. In summary, efficient insurance markets can operate (a) when there exist many independent events or states

of nature and (b) when there is little chance of moral hazard and/or adverse selection. Governments sometimes intervene by providing social insurance when private markets fail to operate.

B. Game Theory

l. Economic life is full of circumstances in which competition among a few individuals, firms, or even

nations degenerates into a process of jockeying for positions of strategic dominance. Game theory has been applied by economists to provide the structure for systematic analysis of these sorts of situations. The basic

structure involves (a) identifying the players, (b) specifying the various actions or strategies available to each player, and (c) completing a payoff table which records the outcomes of each combination of players’ strategies.

2. Underlying this structure is the notion that all players (a) identify their individual goals, (b) recognize the

goals of the other player(s), and (c) think through all the possible outcomes for each and every possible

strategy. Players then pick the strategy with the highest payoff relative to their goals, assuming that the other players do likewise. (Note that in some situations, there may only be two players in the game.)

3. There sometimes exists a dominant strategy for a given player—a strategy which provides the best

outcome regardless of what the other players do. If all players have a dominant strategy, then the game is solved by a dominant equilibrium.

4. Equilibria are more frequently Nash in character—that is, no player can make himself or herself better off

by switching strategies, given the actions of the other players. Cooperative and noncooperative equilibria can then exist; with cooperative equilibrium, firms collude to determine the best strategies to pursue, while with

noncooperative equilibrium, each firm pursues its optimal strategy without accounting for the welfare of rivals.

5. Perfect competition in the absence of externalities supports a noncooperative Nash equilibrium which is

efficient. In many other situations, however, a cooperative equilibrium, which must be supported by some sort of intervention, can be socially superior to the noncooperative Nash equilibrium.

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V.

HELPFUL HINTS

l.

Some people claim that speculators and arbitragers perform no productive function in an economy because,

rather than producing any good or service, they simply buy and sell existing products. However, it is important not to understate the importance of the service that they provide to a market economy. Large supply

fluctuations over time would lead to price volatility and to much greater uncertainty in markets. This in turn could lead to higher prices for consumers and to fewer consumers in general. The stability provided by these economic agents provides benefits to all agents in the market.

2. The term expected value is used throughout this chapter. You will learn more about it in a later chapter.

For now, note that the expected value of an event is the weighted average of the possible outcomes where the probabilities of occurrence serve as weights. For example, when you toss a coin, there are two possible outcomes: heads or tails. Each of these outcomes has a 50 percent chance of occurring. With the $1000 bet described in your textbook, you will win $1000 if the coin turns up heads and lose $1000 if the coin turns up tails. The expected value of the event is:

.5 ($1000) + .5 ( - $1000) = 0

Expected utility can be calculated in the same way. The challenge, as always with utility, is to find some acceptable measure of utility to use in the calculation.

3. Game theory is an exciting and relatively new area of economic analysis. It allows us to consider the kind

of mutual interdependence that is pervasive in economic life. Most often, individual decisions about resource allocation are dependent upon the decisions made by others; most often, firm decisions concerning price and output are affected by the behavior of rivals or potential rivals. Hence game-theoretic concepts have been applied in a wide range of areas, from union-managemcnt bargaining, to household and family behavior, to international trade wars, to public policy and optimal taxation.

4. Students sometimes have trouble differentiating between a Nash equilibrium and a dominant strategy for

players. The key here is that a Nash equilibrium occurs when no player can improve his or her payoff given the other player’s strategy. A dominant strategy occurs when one player has a best strategy no matter what strategy the other player follows. With Nash, we are saying that a firm is doing the best it can based upon what rivals are doing. With a dominant strategy, we are saying that a firm is doing the best it can.

VI. MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS

These questions are organized by topic from the chapter outline. Choose the best answer from the options

available.

A. Economics Risk and of Uncertainty

l.

Speculation involves:

a. buying inputs that your firm will use to produce final goods and services.

b. knowledge of future events with certainty.

c. riskless activities.

d. making profits from the fluctuations in prices.

2.

Speculative activity tends to:

a. spread consumption more evenly over time.

b. concentrate consumption in particular regions in which production is most abundant.

c. spread consumption more evenly across regions or areas.

d. increase volatility of prices.

e. both a and c.

3.

The welfare gain associated with smoothing consumption is derived from:

a. diminishing income effects.

b. increasing returns to scale.

c. the law of comparative advantage.

d. diminishing marginal utility.

e. increasing marginal productivity.

Panels (a) and (b) of Figure 11-1 show the demand for some good Y in two separate regions of the country:

regions A and B. There are 4 units of Y supplied initially to region A and 5 units supplied to region B. Use

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Figure 11-1 to answer questions 4 through 6.

191 Figure 11-1 to answer questions 4 through 6. Figure 11-1 4. The welfare-maximizing transfer of

Figure 11-1

4. The welfare-maximizing transfer of Y would, in this case, without any transportation cost, involve moving:

a. 2 units of Y from A to B.

b. 2 units of Y from B to A.

c. 1 unit of Y from B to A.

d. 1 unit of Y from A to B.

e. all the Y units to region A.

5. The increase in total welfare generated by the maximally efficient transfer of Y identified in question 4 is

equal to:

a. $1.

b. $2.

c. $3.

d. $4.

e. $5.

6. The transfer of no units of Y would be welfare-maximizing if the cost of transporting each unit from one

region to the other were greater than:

a. $0.67.

b. $1.00.

c. $1.33.

d. $1.67.

e. $2.00.

7. In general, total welfare is maximized across space, time, or states of nature in the absence of transfer costs

when the:

a. marginal utilities of consumption are equal everywhere.

b. level of consumption is equal everywhere.

c. total utility derived from consumption is equal everywhere.

d. total value added in production is equal everywhere.

e. slopes of the demand curves are equal everywhere.

Suppose that Table 11-1 describes Janet’s utility function for income. Use it to answer questions 8 and 9.

TABLE 11-1

Total

Income

Utility

$ 5,000

100

10,000

250

15,000

450

20,000

600

25,000

700

30,000

750

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8. The marginal utility of the 20,000th dollar is:

a. .03 utils.

b. 33.33 utils.

c. 150 utils.

d. 5000 utils.

e. none of the above.

9. Janet is:

a. indifferent to risk.

b. risk seeking.

c. risk averse.

d. uncertain about risk.

e. satiated with money.

An individual has an income of $1000 and possesses the utility schedule shown in Figure 11-2. Use this schedule to answer questions 10 through 12.

10. Suppose this person faces a 50 percent chance of losing $100. Her expected utility would equal:

a. 50 utils.

b. 45 utils.

c. 40 utils.

d. 35 utils.

e. 30 utils.

utils. b. 45 utils. c. 40 utils. d. 35 utils. e. 30 utils. Figure 11-2 11.

Figure 11-2

11. Which answer to question 10 correctly identifies her level of utility if she could arrange to receive her

expected level of income with certainty?

a. 50 utils.

b. 45 utils.

c. 40 utils.

d. 35 utils.

e. 30 utils.

12. How much would the individual described in question 10 be willing to pay as an insurance premium to

guarantee an invariant income (prior to paying the premium) of $950—her expected income?

a. $100.

b. $75.

c. $50.

d. $25.

e. It is impossible to tell from the information provided.

13. In 1994, as part of their transition to a market economy, the Russians decided to outlaw bankruptcy. This

meant that regardless of the productivity or behavior of the owners and managers, firms were not allowed to go

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out of business. This would be most likely to create a(n):

a. adverse selection problem.

b. moral hazard problem.

c. Nash equilibrium.

d. hedging opportunity.

e. dominant strategy.

14. Adverse selection occurs when:

a. insurance reduces a person’s incentive to avoid or prevent the risky event.

b. both players in a payoff matrix have a dominant strategy.

c. speculators engage in hedging.

d. the people with the highest risk are the most likely ones to buy insurance.

e. the people that are most risk-averse and most careful are the most likely to buy insurance.

15. Any person who places larger value on gaining $2,000 than on losing $2,000 is:

a. risk averse.

b. risk loving.

c. risk neutral.

d. not enough information to answer the question.

B. Game Theory

16. Game theory is most useful for analyzing:

a. the results of the Super Bowl.

b. the ways that two or more players choose strategies that jointly affect each participant.

c. uncertainty in economic analysis.

d. equilibrium in a perfectly competitive market.

e. adverse selection in markets for insurance.

17. In a game-theoretic model, a dominant strategy exists when:

a. a player has a best strategy no matter what strategy the other player follows.

b. no better strategy exists given the behavior of the other player.

c. players cooperate and coordinate their behavior in order to maximize joint profits.

d. players engage in a rivalry game involving price.

e. the payoffs to the players are equal.

Figure 11-3 shows a payoff table for two firms, A and B. Each firm must choose to play one of two strategies. The payoffs to the players depend not only on the strategies they choose individually but also on the strategy that the rival plays. The numbers inside the cells show the payoffs to the two firms depending upon their choice of strategy. For example, if Firm A chooses strategy I and Firm B chooses strategy III, Firm A gets $20 and Firm B gets $50. Use Figure 11-3 to answer questions 17 through 20.

gets $50. Use Figure 11-3 to answer questions 17 through 20. Figure 11-3 18. Which strategy

Figure 11-3

18. Which strategy is a dominant strategy for firm A?

a. Strategy I.

b. Strategy II.

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d. Strategy IV.

e. None of the strategies available to firm A is a dominant strategy.

19.

Which strategy is a dominant strategy for firm B?

a. Strategy I.

b. Strategy II.

c. Strategy III.

d. Strategy IV.

e. None of the strategies available to firm B is a dominant strategy.

20.

Which cell is a dominant equilibrium?

a. Cell a.

b. Cell b.

c. Cell c.

d. Cell d.

e. None of the cells is a dominant equilibrium.

21.

Which cell is a Nash equilibrium?

a. Cell a.

b. Cell b.

c. Cell c.

d. Cell d.

e. None of the cells is a Nash equilibrium.

22.

A cooperative equilibrium:

a. occurs when the parties act in unison to find strategies that will benefit their joint payoffs.

b. occurs when firms form a cartel.

c. is unstable because firms have an incentive to cheat on agreements.

d. all the above.

e. none of the above.

23.

Which of the following is an example of a “winner-take-all” game?

a. UPS workers end a strike by securing a 5% wage increase for all workers.

b. Russia and the United States end the cold war.

c. A merit pay scheme awards a $50,000 bonus to the top salesperson of the year.

d. Schools award tenure to all professors who are recommended by a faculty committee.

e. All of the above are examples of winner-take-all games.

VII.

PROBLEM SOLVING

The following problems are designed to help you apply the concepts that you learned in this chapter.

A. Economics of Risk and Uncertainty

1. Assume that the demand curve for some good Q drawn in Figure 11-4 applies equally well to two different

regions of the country, region A and region B. Suppose, additionally, that 10 units of Q are available initially in region A, while only 6 units are available in region B.

a.

Given this demand curve, the marginal utility of the last unit supplied in A would equal $

,

while

the marginal utility of the next unit which could be supplied in B would equal $

Without any

transportation cost, the transfer of 1 unit from A to B would cause utility in A to (rise / fall) by $

 

and

utility in B to (rise / fall) by $

from A to B would similarly (increase / decrease) total welfare, this time by $

the two regions would, in fact, be maximized when the supply available in A equaled

supply, available in B equaled supplied to A would be $

units from A to B would, in fact, maximally (increase / reduce) total welfare by $

welfare is maximized where (the marginal utilities of the last unit supplied are equal across regions / the total utilities of consumption are equal across regions / the quantities supplied across regions are equal).

for a net gain in welfare of $

The transfer of a second unit of Q

Total welfare across units and the

In general, total

units. In that circumstance, the marginal utility of the last unit

The total transfer of

and the last unit supplied to B would be $

195

195 Figure 11-4 b. Now suppose that it costs 75 cents per unit to transport Q

Figure 11-4

b. Now suppose that it costs 75 cents per unit to transport Q from one region to the other. The first unit

transferred (from A to B / from B to A) would again improve total welfare, this time by $

unit transferred would see (another increase / a reduction) in total welfare of $

transportation costs would (increase / reduce) the gain in total welfare by

There would exist no beneficial transfers of supply if transportation costs were greater than $

. The next

The advent of percent, from $

to $

per unit.

2. Consider Figure 11-5. It shows the demand for some good X in every period of a three-period supply

cycle. Assume that 30 units of X are supplied in the first period of the cycle and then nothing is supplied in either period 2 or period 3.

and then nothing is supplied in either period 2 or period 3. Figure 11-5 a. If

Figure 11-5

a. If every unit of X were consumed in the first period, then consumption in periods 2 and 3 would be

units, and total welfare (the sum of consumer and producer surplus) over the entire cycle would equal the (area under the demand curve to the left of 30 units on the horizontal axis / value assumed by the demand curve above 30 units on the horizontal axis / total area under the demand curve).

b. Now assume that consumption is smoothed over the three periods so that consumption is 10 units in

each. Without any carrying costs, the price in each period would equal $

would equal $

maximized in this case because (the marginal utility of consumption in each period would be

Total welfare in each period

, for a total over the three periods of $

Total welfare (would / would not) be

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equalized / the total utility of consumption in each period would be equalized). This is true despite

the fact that the price of X would be

c. (advanced concept) Assume, as an additional complication, that it costs $5 in interest and storage fees to hold 1 unit of X for one period and $10 to hold 1 unit for two periods. As a result, the price of X

would be $

period 1. The only distribution of consumption over the three periods which would (1) support this price pattern and (2) exhaust total supply over the three period cycle would have consumption equal to

units,

P 2 = P l + $5 and P 3 = P l + $10. The slope of the demand curve is -1 so X 2 = X l -$5 and X 3 = X l -$10.

The solution must then satisfy the condition that (X l + (X l -$5) + (X l - $10)) = 30.) The price of X would

therefore be $ amount to $

(higher / lower) in period 3 than in

percent higher in period 1 than it was before.

(higher / lower) in period 2 than in period 1 and $

units, and

units in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively. (Hint: The holding fees suggest that

;

in period 2, and $ and in period 3, $

in period 3. Welfare in period 1 would then Total welfare over the cycle would then be

;

in period 1, $ in period 2, $

$ (higher / lower) than the lumpy consumption pattern of part a and (higher / lower) than the

costless-storage situation described in part b. In comparing the costless-storage case with the costly

storage case described in part c, however, welfare falls by $

than) the total storage fees of $

d. Draw the price pattern for several cycles in Figure 11-6 and confirm that it corresponds to the pattern

suggested in Figure 11-1 in the text.

,

an amount which is (greater than / less

.

to the pattern suggested in Figure 11-1 in the text. , an amount which is (greater

Figure 11-6

to the pattern suggested in Figure 11-1 in the text. , an amount which is (greater

Figure 11-7

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3. Consult Figure 11-7. A cardinal utility schedule dependent upon the level of income is drawn there; it

displays a (diminishing / constant / increasing) marginal utility of income.

a. Suppose that income is $50,000 per year; in terms of utility measured on the vertical axis in utils, this

$50,000 would produce utility equal to

b. Now suppose that we consider a “lottery” that has an expected payoff of $0 but which will return a

gain of $10,000 with a probability of 50 percent or a loss of $10,000 with a probability of 50 percent.

Would playing this lottery improve welfare?

produce

utils.

To see why or why not, notice that $60,000 would

utils—a gain of

utils over $50,000. An income of $40,000 would, meanwhile, produce utils from $50,000. Losing $10,000 therefore produces a (larger / equal /

utils—a reduction of

smaller) change in utility than gaining an extra $10,000 because marginal utility is (increasing / constant / decreasing).

c. To put this another way, the average level of utility that could be expected if the lottery were played

would be

lottery therefore costs, in terms of constant-income alternatives, $

without the lottery and the $

e. (advanced concept) Finally, assume that the lottery is not optional. Assume, instead, that it

necessarily faces an individual with the utility schedule graphed in Figure 11-7. How much would this

person pay to get out of the uncertainty of receiving $40,000 with a 50 percent probability or $60,000 with

a 50 percent probability? The lottery yields the same average utility as a constant income of $

person would, therefore, pay $

lottery—thereby guaranteeing an income of $

$

This level could be achieved with a fixed income of $

,

value of taking the lottery.

The risk involved in the the difference between $50,000

The

for an insurance policy that would remove the risk of the

even though the lottery produces an average income of

of the even though the lottery produces an average income of Figure 11-8 4. Now suppose

Figure 11-8

4. Now suppose that the utility schedule is given by the straight line drawn in Figure 11-8. To avoid any

lottery (e.g., the case in question 3 with $10,000 on either side of $50,000) with an expected return of $0, an

individual with this schedule would be willing to pay $

Why?

5.

a. Efficient insurance markets can exist if there are (many / only a few) independent events and if there is

little chance of

b. Indicate whether each of the following circumstances illustrates a problem of (a) moral hazard, (b)

adverse selection, or (c) too few independent events.

or

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(1)

The existence of some cataclysmic event can cause enormous damage in a small but populated

area.

(2)

The purchase of insurance against automobile theft makes owners less cautious about where they

park their cars.

(3)

High premium charges drive careful car owners to forgo theft insurance in lieu of “self-insurance.”

(4)

The existence of the FDIC makes bankers more risk-seeking than they would otherwise be.

c. Failure of private insurance markets frequently leads to government financed programs of few examples:

(1)

(2)

(3)

List a

B. Game Theory

programs of few examples: (1) (2) (3) List a B. Game Theory Figure 11-9 6. Consult

Figure 11-9

6. Consult Figure 11-9. It is constructed just like the payoff matrices discussed in the text, with two firms

(A and B) and four strategies (I and II for firm A and III and IV for firm B). The numbers in the boxes indicate outcomes: the number in the upper right corner applies to firm B, while the number in the lower left corner applies to A. Cell c, for example, corresponds with firm A playing strategy II and firm B playing strategy III; note, in this case, that firm A would lose $200 while firm B would lose only $20. The payoff matrix in Figure 11-9 shows that strategy I (is / is not) a dominant strategy for firm A. If A were to choose strategy I over II when B chooses III, then A would (earn $50 / lose $200 / lose $20 / lose $100) instead of (earning $50 / losing $200 / losing $20 / losing $100); on the other hand, if A were to choose strategy I over II when B chooses IV, then A would (earn $50 / lose $200 / lose $20 / lose $100) instead of (earning $50 / losing $200 / losing $20 / losing $100). Strategy III (is / is not) a dominant strategy for firm B, as well, so cell (a / b / c / d) is a dominant equilibrium. It (is / is not) a Nash equilibrium because:

7. Figure 11-10 displays a different payoff matrix for two firms, A and B. (Firm A has / Firm B has /

Both firms have / Neither firm has) a dominant strategy; it is strategy

The Nash equilibrium is indicated by cell (a / b / c / d) because firm B will (always / sometimes / never)

choose

for firm A and strategy

for B.

strategy and firm A will certainly choose strategy

as soon as it realizes that B will play strategy

199

199 Figure 11-10 8. Figures 11-11 through 11-14 display four more payoff matrices for firms A

Figure 11-10

8. Figures 11-11 through 11-14 display four more payoff matrices for firms A and B. Complete Table 11-2

by identifying A’s dominant strategy, B’s dominant strategy, the cell indicating a dominant equilibrium, the

cell indicating a Nash equilibrium, and the cell indicating a cooperative equilibrium. If any of these categories is not exhibited by any figure, write “n/a” in the corresponding blank.

9. Pollution abatement can cost any firm money, raising its products’ prices and damaging its market share (if

it acts alone). The key to effective abatement regulation is therefore frequently seen to be one of getting all the polluting firms to act together to reduce pollution from all sources simultaneously. Figure 11-15 displays a payoff matrix which illustrates this point.

all sources simultaneously. Figure 11-15 displays a payoff matrix which illustrates this point. Figure 11-11 Figure

Figure 11-11

all sources simultaneously. Figure 11-15 displays a payoff matrix which illustrates this point. Figure 11-11 Figure

Figure 11-12

200

200 Figure 11-13 TABLE 11-2 Figure 11-14 Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig. 11-11 11-12 11-13 11-14 A’s

Figure 11-13

200 Figure 11-13 TABLE 11-2 Figure 11-14 Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig. 11-11 11-12 11-13 11-14 A’s

TABLE 11-2

Figure 11-14

Fig.

Fig.

Fig.

Fig.

11-11

11-12

11-13

11-14

A’s dominant strategy B’s dominant strategy Dominant equilibrium Nash equilibrium Cooperative equilibrium

The two firms can choose to control their emissions or not. If they both choose to control their emissions,

they each make $

equilibrium. Each firm has an incentive (not to control emissions / to control emissions) if it knows that the

at the expense of the other firm, whose

profits fall to $

$ Only a (noncooperative / cooperative) equilibrium supports the socially desirable control-control

outcome of cell a. (This is socially optimal as long as we assume that the society desires low levels of pollution.)

other will be acting to control emissions; it would then earn $

in profits; this is the situation of cell (a / b / c / d). This (is / is not), however, a Nash

The Nash equilibrium, therefore, is indicated by cell (a / b / c / d) where each firm earns

201

201 VIII. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS Figure 11-15 Answer the following questions, making sure that you can explain

VIII.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Figure 11-15

Answer the following questions, making sure that you can explain the work you did to arrive at the answers.

1. Discuss the important functions of speculators. Why might it be efficient to support the efforts of these

people, even though they produce no output in the economy?

2. Define hedging, and describe a situation in which this service might be useful for some risk-averse people.

3. Explain why adverse selection might cause problems in the markets for auto insurance.

4. Define the term moral hazard. Why might the savings and loan crisis of the 1990s have been initiated by

moral hazard problems?

5. What is the difference between a game that has an equilibrium in dominant strategies and a game that has a

Nash equilibrium?

6. Explain why the perfectly competitive equilibrium is a Nash equilibrium.

7. Insurance is a useful device for reducing risk; however, sometimes insurance is not available. Explain

under what conditions insurance will be available to consumers who want to reduce their risk.

IX.

ANSWERS TO STUDY GUIDE QUESTIONS

III.

Review of Key Concepts

7

Speculation

l1

Arbitrage

13

Hedging

1

Risk aversion

6

Diminishing marginal utility of income

12

Risk spreading

10

Moral hazard

3

Adverse selection

9

Players

5

Strategies

2

Payoffs

8

Nash equilibrium

14

Dominant strategy

4

Noncooperative equilibrium

17

Cooperative equilibrium

15

Winner-take-all games

16

Credibility

VI. Multiple Choice Questions

1.

D

2.

E

3.

D

4.

B

5.

B

6.

B

7.

A

8.

A

9.

C

10.

B

11.

B

12.

C

13.

B

14.

D

15.

A

16.

B

17.

A

18.

B

19.

E

20.

E

VII. Problem Solving

21.

D

202

22.

D

23.

C

l.

$2.50, $4.50, fall, $2.50, rise, $4.50, $2.00, increase, $1.00, 8 units, 8 units, $3.50, $3.50, 2, increase, $3.00, the marginal utilities of the last unit supplied were equal across regions.

a.

b.

from A to B, $1.25, another increase, 25 cents, reduce, 50%, $3.00, $1.50, $1.50

2.

a.

0, $1050, area under the demand curve to the left of 30 units on the horizontal axis.

b.

$40, $450, $1350, would, the marginal utility of consumption in each period would be equalized, 100

percent.

 

$5, higher, $10, higher, 15, 10, 5, $35, $40, $45, $637.50, $450.00, $237.50, $1325, higher, lower, $25, $100

c.

3.

diminishing

 

a. 800

b. no, 900, 100, 600, 200, larger, decreasing

c. 750, $46,500 (approximately, the following answers are based on this estimate), $3500, $46,500

d. $46,500, $3500, $46,500, $50,000

4.

$0. Since total utility is linear, the individual is risk neutral, or indifferent to risk. Therefore he or she is not willing to pay anything to avoid risk.

5.

a.

many, adverse selection, moral hazard

b.

(1)

too few independent events

(2)

moral hazard

(3)

adverse selection

(4) moral hazard

c.

social insurance

(1)

social security

(2)

Medicaid, health care for the poor

(3)

systems of national health care, such as the Canadian system

6.

is, earn $50, losing $200, lose $20, losing $100, is, a, is, any dominant equilibrium is a Nash equilibrium

because neither player would have an incentive to switch strategies, given what the other player is doing.

7. Firm B has, neither I nor II, IV, d, always choose strategy IV, II, IV.

8. See Table 11-2.

9. $100, a, is not, not to control emissions, $170, $20, d, $150, cooperative.

TABLE 11-2

 

Fig.

Fig.

Fig.

Fig.

11-11

11-12

11-13

11-14

A’s dominant strategy B’s dominant strategy Dominant equilibrium Nash equilibrium Cooperative equilibrium

I

n/a

n/a

II

n/a

III

n/a

IV

n/a

n/a

n/a

cell d

cell a

cell c

cell d

cell d

cell a

cell c

cell a

cell d

VIII. Discussion Questions

1. Speculators help to smooth consumption across time, space, or uncertain states of nature.

2. Hedging is the activity of avoiding a risk by making a counteracting sale or investment. This service

might be useful for an individual who will have goods to sell in the future, but who is worried about uncertain market events that might erode prices between now and the point of sale.

3. Adverse selection might cause problems in the markets for auto insurance if those who are most likely to

get in an auto accident are most likely to get insurance. This would mean that rates are higher for everyone in the insured pool because there will be more accidents occurring among people with insurance.

4. Moral hazard occurs when insurance reduces an individual’s incentive to avoid or prevent risky events. The

savings and loan crisis might have been initiated by moral hazard problems if bank directors were following investment strategies that were more risky than they would have been without government deposit insurance provided by the FDIC.

203

5. A dominant strategy occurs for a player when there is a best strategy for him or her no matter what strategy

the other player follows. A dominant equilibrium occurs when both players have and follow their dominant

strategies. A Nash equilibrium occurs when both players follow their best strategies given the strategy of their opponent.

6. The perfectly competitive equilibrium is a Nash equilibrium because no buyer or seller has a better strategy

to follow given the behavior of all other market participants. Firms set marginal cost equal to marginal

revenue, given prices dictated by the market. Consumers set the ratios of marginal utilities to price equal for all goods in their market baskets. In a noncooperative setting, there is no strategy for any firm that will increase profits, and no strategy for consumers that will increase utility.

7. First, there must be a large number of insurable events. Additionally, there must be sufficient experience

regarding such events so that insurance companies can reliably estimate the losses. Finally, the insurance must be relatively free of moral hazard.

204