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American Economic Review: Vol. 94 No. 4 (September 2004)


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Sunk Investments Lead to Unpredictable Prices

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Mailath, George J., Andrew Postlewaite, and Larry Samuelson. 2004. "Sunk Investments Lead to Unpredictable Prices." American Economic Review, 94(4): 896-918.

DOI: 10.1257/0002828042002660


We study transactions that require investments before trading in a competitive market, when forward contracts fixing the transaction price are absent. We show that, despite the market being perfectly competitive and subject to arbitrarily little uncertainty, the inability to jointly determine investment levels and prices may make it impossible for buyers and sellers to predict the prices at which they will trade, leading to inefficient levels of investment and trade.

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Mailath, George J.
Postlewaite, Andrew
Samuelson, Larry

American Economic Review

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