Policymakers frequently use price regulations as a response to inequality in the markets they control. In the paper presented in this Virtual Market Design Seminar, the authors examine the optimal structure of such policies from the perspective of mechanism design. They study a buyer-seller market in which agents have private information about both their valuations for an indivisible object and their marginal utilities for money. The planner seeks a mechanism that maximizes agents' total utilities, subject to incentive and market-clearing constraints. They uncover the constrained Pareto frontier by identifying the optimal trade-off between allocative efficiency and redistribution. They find that competitive-equilibrium allocation is not always optimal. Instead, when there is substantial inequality across sides of the market, the optimal design uses a tax-like mechanism, introducing a wedge between the buyer and seller prices, and redistributing the resulting surplus to the poorer side of the market via lump-sum payments. When there is significant within-side inequality, meanwhile, it may be optimal to impose price controls even though doing so induces rationing.
The seminar series is jointly organized by ZEW, the University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and the Universities of Bonn and Mannheim. Additional information on the Virtual MD Seminar Series.
If you would like to participate and to stay up to date about upcoming presentations, please join our mailing list. You will receive the Zoom link for each talk.
The seminar presentations are scheduled to last 60 minutes: 45 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes for both comments and questions.
We will experiment with various methods for questions: A moderator collects questions during the presentation. Speakers will be encouraged to pause every few slides to allow a gap for questions. The moderator will relay clarification questions or unmute selectively during the talk. Remaining questions will be collected and asked in the discussion period.
Just like with other initiated virtual seminars, these rules are subject to change as we gain experience with how to handle the seminar most efficiently.
The idea for this format was borrowed from the Chamberlain Seminar. Other online seminars can be found at the AEA website.
The Virtual Market Design Seminar is an open online alternative to seminars cancelled due to the COVID-19. Seminars will cover all fields from market design. The seminar presentations are scheduled to last 60 minutes, after 45 minutes of presentation, 15 minutes are for both comments and question.