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Schweighofer-Kodritsch, Sebastian (27. December 2021): The Bargaining Trap. Collaborative Research Center Transregio 190, Discussion Paper No. 308
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Abstract

I revisit the Rubinstein (1982) model for the classic problem of price hag- gling and show that bargaining can become a “trap,” where equilibrium leaves one party strictly worse off than if no transaction took place (e.g., the equilibrium price exceeds a buyer’s valuation). This arises when one party is impatient about capturing zero surplus (e.g., Rubinstein’s example of fixed bargaining costs). Augmenting the protocol with unilateral exit options for responding bargainers generally removes the trap.