Tobias Gamp
also known as Tobit


Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College London

Welcome! I am an economist with research interests in microeconomics, industrial organization and behavioral economics. A focus of my research is the operation of markets when consumers struggle to evaluate complex product information. Key questions that I examine are when firms deceive consumers with inferior products and when firms obfuscate product information in order to fatigue and mislead (naive) consumers. An important objective of my research is to shed light on the implications for issues in competition and consumer protection policy.

I am on the job market this year (for the first time) as a job market candidate of the University of Bonn where I received my Ph.D. last year. I will be available for interviews at the 2018 ASSA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, the SAEe meetings in Barcelona and the RES meetings in London.


Research

Deception and Competition in Search Markets [Job Market Paper]
(with Daniel Krähmer)

We study the interplay between deception and consumer search in a search market where firms may deceive some naive consumers with inferior products that display hidden (bad) attributes. We derive an equilibrium in which both superior and inferior quality is offered and show that as search frictions vanish, superior goods are entirely driven out of the market. Deception harms sophisticated consumers, as it forces them to search longer to find a superior product. We argue that policy interventions that reduce search frictions such as the standardization of price and package formats may harm welfare. In contrast, reducing the number of naive consumers through transparency policies and education campaigns as well as a minimum quality standard and a price floor regulation can improve welfare.

[pdf]

Guided Search [R&R Rand]

Is it profitable for a multi-product monopolist to support her consumers in finding their preferred products? I study a monopolist who may influence the information acquisition of a consumer who inspects her products by raising wasteful search costs, which I interpret as the obfuscation of product information. I show that obfuscation is a profitable sales technique, as it allows the monopolist to influence the consumer's order of search, so that, at an optimum, the consumer purchases the highest-margin product which supplies him with positive utility. In equilibrium, polarizing products are sold at the highest margin and the monopolist obtains the second-best profits. The consumer's equilibrium utility, on the other hand, does not necessarily exceed zero. Nevertheless, obfuscation may lead to welfare improvements. My results suggest that informational frictions emerge endogenously if firms have market power.

[pdf]

Search, Differentiated Products and Obfuscation

I study a market model, where consumers may either search sequentially for suitable products or, in contrast to the previous literature, may purchase products immediately and poorly informed. In comparison to the market outcome in the absence of the option to purchase immediately, market prices increase. Product differentiation is not necessarily profitable for firms anymore. Resulting concerns that firms might fail to provide the welfare optimal, rich variety of products are gratuitous if product design is endogenous. I endogenize search costs so that firms may influence the consumers' acquisition of product information through obfuscation. Although, a firm's search costs signal consumers whether its offer is good or bad, firms obfuscate product information and equilibrium search costs maximize industry profits.

[pdf]

Consideration Sets and Competitive Marketing: Corrigendum

(withKfir Eliazand Ran Spiegler)

Eliaz and Spiegler [2011] proposed a model of competitive marketing when consumers have limited propensity to consider all feasible market alternatives. A key result in the paper stated that there always exists a symmetric equilibrium in which firms earn the max-min profit. This statement turns out to be incorrect, and in this corrigendum we provide a necessary condition on the ”consideration function” for the existence of an equilibrium with max-min payoffs for any ”admissible” cost structure.

[pdf] [Consideration Sets and Competitive Marketing]

 


University College London

Department of Economics

Drayton House | 30 Gordon Street

London WC1H 0AX

t.gamp@ucl.ac.uk


Curriculum Vitae [pdf]


Research Interest

Microeconomics, Industrial Organization, Behavioral Economics, Consumer Search and Competition Policy