Disclosure and Choice

An agent chooses among projects with random outcomes. His payoff is increasing in the outcome and in an observer’s expectation of the outcome. With some probability, the agent will be able to disclose some information about the true outcome to the observer. We show that choice is inefficient in general. We illustrate this point with a characterization of the inefficiencies that result when the agent can perfectly disclose the outcome with some probability and can disclose nothing otherwise as in Dye (1985a). In this case, the agent favors riskier projects even with lower expected returns. On the other hand, if information can also be disclosed by a challenger who prefers lower beliefs of the observer, the chosen project is excessively risky when the agent has better access to information, excessively risk-averse when the challenger has better access, and efficient otherwise. We also characterize the agent’s worst-case equilibrium payoff. We give examples of alternative disclosure technologies illustrating other forms the inefficiencies can take. For example, in a two- dimensional setting, we demonstrate a “hitting for the fences” effect where the agent systematically focuses on the “harder” dimension at the expense of success on the easier.

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