nep-cta New Economics Papers
on Contract Theory and Applications
Issue of 2023‒02‒20
four papers chosen by
Guillem Roig
University of Melbourne

  1. Financial Contracts for Differences By Schlecht, Ingmar; Maurer, Christoph; Hirth, Lion
  2. Debt Maturity and Firm Productivity—The Role of Intangibles By Nakatani, Ryota
  3. Virtue of Simplicity in Asymmetric Auctions By Shraman Banerjee; Swagata Bhattacharjee
  4. Auctions without commitment in the auto-bidding world By Aranyak Mehta; Andres Perlroth

  1. By: Schlecht, Ingmar; Maurer, Christoph; Hirth, Lion
    Abstract: Contracts for differences are widely discussed as a cornerstone of Europe’s future electricity market design. This is a paper on CfD contract design. We summarize the dispatch and investment distortions that conventional CfDs cause, the patches that are used to overcome these shortcomings, and the problems these fixes introduce. We then propose an alternative contract that we dub “financial” CfD. It is a hybrid between conventional CfDs and forward contracts that mitigates revenue risk to a very large degree while providing undistorted incentives and avoiding margin calls. Like traditional CfDs, these contracts are long-term and tailored to technology-specific (wind, solar, nuclear) generation patterns but, like forwards, decouple payments from actual generation. We also propose to mitigate volume risk and to accept physical assets as collateral to avoid margin calls.
    Keywords: renewable energy, contracts for differences, CfDs, electricity
    JEL: Q4
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Nakatani, Ryota
    Abstract: Does the maturity of debt matter for productivity? Using data on Italian firms from 1997 to 2015, we study the relationship among debt maturity, productivity, and firm characteristics. We find that productivity is positively associated with short-term debt and negatively associated with long-term debt. This result supports the hypothesis that the less intense monitoring of firm performance and fewer liquidation fears stemming from the long maturity of debt causes a moral hazard, while short-term debt serves as a disciplinary device to improve firm performance in the short run. This effect is evident in small- and medium-sized enterprises and old firms. In contrast, large firms can utilize long-term financing to improve productivity through long-term investments. Firms improve productivity by purchasing intangible assets financed by short-term debt.
    Keywords: Debt maturity; Productivity; SMEs; Firm size; Firm age; Intangibles
    JEL: D22 D24 G32 O16 O34
    Date: 2023–01–28
  3. By: Shraman Banerjee (Department Of Economics, Shiv Nadar University); Swagata Bhattacharjee (Department Of Economics, Ashoka University)
    Abstract: In single object auctions with asymmetric bidders, the Myerson Optimal auction is difficult to implement because of its informational requirements, complexity, and a possible discouragement effect on the bidders. This paper experimentally studies the performance of a "Simple" auction (Hartline and Roughgarden, 2009) vis-a-vis Optimal auction. We find that Simple auction revenue- approximates Optimal auction better than what the theory predicts: under weak asymmetry the revenue difference is not statistically significant. We explore the bidding behavior and show that the high type bidders get discouraged in Optimal auction. We also explore the role of cognitive ability in the bidding behavior.
    Keywords: Optimal Auction, Simple Auction, Asymmetric Bidders, Experiment.
    JEL: D44 C90
    Date: 2023–02–02
  4. By: Aranyak Mehta; Andres Perlroth
    Abstract: Advertisers in online ad auctions are increasingly using auto-bidding mechanisms to bid into auctions instead of directly bidding their value manually. One prominent auto-bidding format is the target cost-per-acquisition (tCPA) which maximizes the volume of conversions subject to a return-of-investment constraint. From an auction theoretic perspective however, this trend seems to go against foundational results that postulate that for profit-maximizing bidders, it is optimal to use a classic bidding system like marginal CPA (mCPA) bidding rather than using strategies like tCPA. In this paper we rationalize the adoption of such seemingly sub-optimal bidding within the canonical quasi-linear framework. The crux of the argument lies in the notion of *commitment*. We consider a multi-stage game where first the auctioneer declares the auction rules; then bidders select either the tCPA or mCPA bidding format and then, if the auctioneer lacks commitment, it can revisit the rules of the auction (e.g., may readjust reserve prices depending on the observed bids). Our main result is that so long as a bidder believes that the auctioneer lacks commitment to follow the rule of the declared auction then the bidder will make a higher profit by choosing the tCPA format over the mCPA format. We then explore the commitment consequences for the auctioneer. In a simplified version of the model where there is only one bidder, we show that the tCPA subgame admits a *credible* equilibrium while the mCPA format does not. That is, when the bidder chooses the tCPA format the auctioneer can credibly implement the auction rules announced at the beginning of the game. We also show that, under some mild conditions, the auctioneer's revenue is larger when the bidder uses the tCPA format rather than mCPA. We further quantify the value for the auctioneer to be able to commit to the declared auction rules.
    Date: 2023–01

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