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BUS7500
Managerial Economics
Week 1
Dr. Jenne Meyer
BUS7500
 Discuss syllabus
 Groundrules
 Introductions
 Who are you?
 Where do you work?
 Experience with Statistics, Economics, or Finance?
 Expectations of this course?
 Your first concert
Managerial
Economics
Outline
1. Introduction: What this book is about
13. Direct price discrimination
2. The one lesson of business
14. Indirect price discrimination
3. Benefits, costs and decisions
15. Strategic games
4. Extent (how much) decisions
16. Bargaining
5. Investment decisions: Look ahead and
reason back
17. Making decisions with uncertainty
6. Simple pricing
18. Auctions
7. Economies of scale and scope
19. The problem of adverse selection
8. Understanding markets and industry
changes
20. The problem of moral hazard
9. Relationships between industries: The
forces moving us towards long-run
equilibrium
10. Strategy, the quest to slow profit erosion
11. Using supply and demand: Trade, bubbles,
market making
12. More realistic and complex pricing
21. Getting employees to work in the best
interests of the firm
22. Getting divisions to work in the best
interests of the firm
23. Managing vertical relationships
24. You be the consultant
3
Economic breakdown
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afBw6FyPf34&feature=pyv&ad=257778
3516&kw=economy
Chapter 1 – Summary of main points
 Problem solving requires two steps: First, figure out why mistakes are being
made; and then figure out how to make them stop.
 The rational-actor paradigm assumes that people act rationally, optimally, and
self-interestedly. To change behavior, you have to change incentives.
 Good incentives are created by rewarding good performance.
 A well-designed organization is one in which employee incentives are aligned
with organizational goals. By this we mean that employees have enough
information to make good decisions, and the incentive to do so.
 You can analyze any problem by asking three questions: (1) Who is making the
bad decision?; (2) Does the decision maker have enough information to make a
good decision?; and (3) the incentive to do so?
 Answers to these questions will suggest solutions centered on (1) letting
someone else make the decision, someone with better information or
incentives; (2) giving the decision maker more information; or (3) changing the
decision maker’s incentives.
Over-bidding OVI gas tract
 A young geologist was preparing a bid
recommendation for an oil tract in the Gulf of Mexico.
 With knowledge of the productivity of neighboring
tracts also owned by company, the geologist
recommended a bid of $5 million.
 Senior management, though, bid $20 million - far over
the next highest-bid of $750,000.
 What, if anything, is wrong?
 The goal of this text is to provide tools to help
diagnose and solve problems like this.
6
Problem solving
 Two distinct steps:
 Figure out what’s wrong, i.e., why the bad decision was made
 Figure out how to fix it
 Both steps require a model of behavior
 Why are people making mistakes?
 What can we do to make them change?
 Economists use the rational actor paradigm to model
behavior. The rational actor paradigm states:
 People act rationally, optimally, self-interestedly
 i.e., they respond to incentives – to change behavior you must change
incentives.
7
How to figure out what is wrong
 Under the rational actor paradigm, mistakes are made for one of two
reasons:
 lack of information or
 bad incentives.
 To diagnose a problem, ask 3 questions:
 1. Who is making bad decision?
 2. Do they have enough info to make a good decision?
 3. Do they have the incentive to do so?
8
How to fix it
 The answers will suggest one or more solutions:
 1. Let someone else make the decision, someone with better information or incentives.
 2. Change the information flow.
 3. Change incentives
Change performance evaluation metric
Change reward scheme
 Use benefit-cost analysis to choose the best (most profitable?) solution
9
Analyze the over-bidding mistake
 What is the problem?
 How do you fix it?
10
ANSWER: Manager bonuses for increasing
reserves
 The bonus system created incentives to over-bid.
 Senior managers were rewarded for acquiring reserves regardless
of their profitability
 Bonuses also created incentive to manipulate the reserve
estimate.
 Now that we know what is wrong, how do we fix it?
 Let someone else decide?
 Change information flow?
 Change incentives?
 Performance evaluation metric
 Reward scheme
11
Ethics
 Does the rational-actor paradigm encourage self-interested, selfish
behavior?
12
Ethics
 NO!
 Opportunistic behavior is a fact of life.
 You need to understand it in order to control it.
 The rational-actor paradigm is a tool for analyzing behavior, not a prescription for how to
live your life.
 Evolutionary psychology
1
How do firms behave?
 Economists often assume the goal of the firm is profit maximization.
Opinions do differ, however.
 Discussion: pricing of hotel rooms during home football game weekends
 Traditional economic view – level pricing leads to excess
demand; how are rooms allocated then (rationing,
arbitrageurs, . . .)
 Contrasting view – businesses should not raise prices during
times of shortage; businesses have a responsibility to
consumers and society
1
How do firms behave?
 Text view: firms serve consumers and society best by engaging in free and
open competition within legal limits while attempting to maximize profits.
 Not a license to engage in illegal behavior
 No denying that concerns exist about the ethical dimension of business
 Reasonable people have disagreed for millennia on what constitutes “ethical” behavior
1
“Greed”
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0VHiONkot8
Class Activity
The owners of a small manufacturing concern have
hired a manager to run the company with the
expectation that he will buy the company after five
years. Compensation of the new vice president is a flat
salary plus 75% of first $150,000 of profit, and then 10%
of profit over $150,000. Purchase price for the company
is set as 4½ times earnings (profit), computed as
average annual profitability over the next five years.
Does this contract align the incentives of the new vice
president with the goals of the owners?
Class Activity Answer
No. Both the purchase price and the profit sharing
create perverse incentives. The VP keeps $0.75 of each
dollar earned up to $150,000, but only $0.10 of each
dollar earned after $150K. Since earning more requires
more effort (increasing marginal effort), the VP has
little incentive to earn more than $150,000. And every
dollar the VP earns raises the price that he will
eventually pay for the company by $4.50, effectively
penalizing him for increasing company profitability.
Capitalism 101
 To identify money-making opportunities, you must first
understand how wealth is created (and sometimes destroyed).
 Definition: Wealth is created when assets are moved from
lower to higher-valued uses
 Definition: Value = willingness to pay
 Desire + income
 The chief virtue of a capitalist economy is its ability to create
wealth
 Voluntary transactions, between individuals or firms, create
wealth.
19
Example: Robinson Crusoe economy
 A house is for sale:
 The buyer values the house at $130,000 – top dollar
 The seller values the house at $120,000 – bottom line
 The buyer and seller must agree to a price that “splits”
surplus between buyer and seller. Here, $128,000.
 The buyer and seller both benefit from this transaction:
 Buyer surplus = buyer’s value minus the price, $2,000
 Seller surplus = the price minus the seller’s value, $8,000
Total surplus = buyer + seller surplus, $10,000 = difference in values
20
Wealth-Creating transactions
 Which assets do these transactions move to higher-valued
uses?





Factory Owners
Real Estate Agents
Investment Bankers
Corporate Raiders
Insurance Salesman
 Discussion: How does eBay create wealth?
 Discussion: Which individual has created the most wealth
during your lifetime?
 Discussion: How do you create wealth?
21
Do mergers create wealth?
 Dell-Alienware merger:
 In 2006, Dell purchased Alienware, a manufacturer of high-end gaming
computers.
 Dell left design, marketing, sales and support in Alienware’s hands;
manufacturing, however, was taken over by Dell.
 With its manufacturing expertise, Dell was able to build Alienware’s
computers at a much lower cost
 Despite this example, many mergers and acquisitions do
not create value – and if they do, value creation is rarely so
clear.
 To create value, the assets of the acquired firm must be
more valuable to the buyer than to the seller.
22
Does government create wealth?
 What’s the government’s role is wealth creation?
 Why are some countries so poor?
 Much of the justification for government intervention comes from the
assertion that markets have failed. One money manager scoffed at this idea.
“The markets are working fine, but they’re giving people answers that they
don’t like, so people cry market failure.”
23
The one lesson of economics
 Definition: an economy is efficient if all wealth-creating transactions have
been consummated.
 This is an unattainable, but useful benchmark
 The economist’s solution to inefficient outcomes is to argue for a change in
public policy.
24
The one lesson of economics
 The One Lesson of Economics: the art of economics consists in looking not
merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it
consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group
but for all groups.
 Policies should then be judged by whether they move us towards or away from efficiency.
25
One lesson of economics (cont.)
 Taxes Destroy Wealth:
 By deterring wealth-creating transactions – when the tax is larger
than the surplus for a transaction.
 Which assets end up in lower-valued uses?
 Subsidies Destroy Wealth:
 flood insurance – encourages people to build in areas that they
otherwise wouldn’t
 Which assets end up in lower-valued uses?
 Price Controls Destroy Wealth:
 rent control (price ceiling) in New York City - deters transactions
between owners and renters
 Which assets end up in lower-valued uses?
26
The one lesson of business
 Definition: Inefficiency implies the existence of
unconsummated, wealth-creating transactions
 The One Lesson of Business: the art of business
consists of identifying assets in lower valued uses, and
profitably moving them to higher valued uses.
 In other words, make money by identifying
unconsummated wealth-creating transactions and
devise ways to profitably consummate them.
27
The one lesson of business (cont.)
 Taxes create a profit opportunity
 Discussion: 1983 Sweden tax
 Subsidies create opportunity
 Discussion: health insurance
 Price-controls create opportunity
 Discussion: Regulation Q. & euro dollars
 Discussion: What about ethics?
28
Companies create wealth
 Companies are collections of transactions:
 They go from buying raw materials, capital, and labor (lower value)
 To selling finished goods & services (higher value)
 Why do some companies have difficulty creating wealth?
 They have trouble moving assets to higher-valued uses
Analogy to taxes, subsidies, price controls on internal transactions
 Can you think of an example of a price control, tax, or
subsidy?
29
Alternate intro anecdote
 Zimbabwe experienced economic contraction of approximately 30 percent
per year from 1999 to 2003
 Unemployment rates have been as high as 80 percent and life expectancy
has fallen over 20 years during the reign of Robert Mugabe
 Why has economic growth been so low?
30
Alternate intro anecdote (cont.)
 One main problem occurred in 2000
 Mugabe backed his supporters takeover of commercial farms, essentially
revoking property rights of these farmers
 The state resettled the confiscated lands with subsistence producers - many
with no previous farming experience. Agricultural production plummeted.
 Farm debacle had economic ripple effects through the banking and
manufacturing sectors
 Declining production deprived the country of ability to earn foreign currency
and buy food overseas
 Widespread famine ensued
 The government's initial attack on private property eventually led to
more direct intervention in the economy and the destruction of
political freedom in Zimbabwe.
31
Extra Discussion:
Darwinian Evolution of Organizations
 Pressure to evolve from two sources
 Product market competition
 Financial market: threat of takeover
 Discussion: extinct forms, Phycor
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Discussion
 Key learnings?
 Next weeks assignments.