Projects in Presentation Mode
"Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock", with Matthew Osborne
(Revision Requested from American Economic Review. Also available from SSRN here. Download Online Appendix here.)
By April 2013, the FCC's recent bill-shock agreement with cellular carriers requires consumers be notified when exceeding usage allowances. Will the agreement help or hurt consumers? To answer this question, we estimate a model of consumer plan choice, usage, and learning using a panel of cellular bills. Our model predicts that the agreement will lower average consumer welfare by $2 per year because firms will respond by raising monthly fees. Our approach is based on novel evidence that consumers are inattentive to past usage (meaning that bill-shock alerts are informative) and advances structural modeling of demand in situations where multipart tariffs induce marginal-price uncertainty. Additionally, our model estimates show that an average consumer underestimates both the mean and variance of future calling. These biases cost consumers $42 per year at existing prices. Moreover, absent bias, the bill-shock agreement would have little to no effect.
"Consumer Inattention and Bill-Shock Regulation"
(Revision Requested from Review of Economic Studies. Also available from SSRN here. Download Online Appendix here.
A previous version of this paper circulated under the title "Bill Shock:
Inattention and Price-Posting Regulation" )
For many goods and services, such as cellular-phone service and debit-card transactions, the price of the next unit of service depends on past usage. As a result, consumers who are inattentive to their past usage but are aware of contract terms may remain uncertain about the price of the next unit. I develop a model of inattentive consumption, derive equilibrium pricing when consumers are inattentive, and evaluate bill-shock regulation requiring firms to disclose information that substitutes for attention. When inattentive consumers are heterogeneous and unbiased, bill-shock regulation reduces social welfare in fairly-competitive markets, which may be the effect of the FCC's recent bill-shock agreement. If inattentive consumers underestimate their demand, however, then bill-shock regulation can lower market prices and protect consumers from exploitation. Hence the Federal Reserve's new opt-in rule for debit-card overdraft protection may substantially benefit consumers.
"Peaches, Lemons, and Cookies: Designing Auction Markets with Dispersed Information", with
This paper studies the role of information asymmetries in second price, common value auctions. Motivated by information structures that arise commonly in applications such as online advertising, we seek to understand what types of information asymmetries lead to substantial reductions in revenue for the auctioneer. One application of our results concerns online advertising auctions in the presence of ``cookies,'' which allow individual advertisers to recognize advertising opportunities for users who, for example, are customers of their websites. Cookies create substantial information asymmetries both ex ante and at the interim stage, when advertisers form their beliefs. The paper proceeds by first introducing a new refinement, which we call ``tremble robust equilibrium'' (TRE), which overcomes the problem of multiplicity of equilibria in many domains of interest. Second, we consider a special information structure, where only one bidder has access to superior information, and show that the seller's revenue in the unique TRE is equal to the expected value of the object conditional on the lowest possible signal, no matter how unlikely it is that this signal is realized. Thus, if cookies identify especially good users, revenue may not be affected much, but if cookies can (even occasionally) be used to identify very poor users, the revenue consequences are severe. In the third part of the paper, we study the case where multiple bidders may be informed, providing additional characterizations of the impact of information structure on revenue. Finally, we consider richer market designs that ensure greater revenue for the auctioneer, for example by auctioning the right to participate in the mechanism.