Martin Shubik, Nicolaas Vriend

Paper #: 99-01-003

  1. Introduction In this paper we interlink a dynamic programming, a game theory, and a behavioral simulation approach to the same problem of economic exchange. We argue that the success of mathematical economics and game theory in the study of the stationary state of a population of microeconomic decision makers has helped to create an unreasonable faith that many economists have placed in models of "rational behavior." The size and complexity of the strategy sets for even a simple infinite horizon exchange economy are so overwhelmingly large that it is reasonably clear that individuals do not indulge in exhaustive search over even a large subset of the potential strategies. Furthermore unless one restricts the unadorned definition of a noncooperative equilibrium to a special form such as a perfect noncooperative equilibrium, almost any outcome can be enforced as an equilibrium by a sufficiently ingenious selection of strategies. In essence, almost anything goes, unless the concept of what constitutes a satisfactory solution to the game places limits on permitted or expected behavior.