Research

Research Summary: I have key research interests in economic theory, particularly industrial organisation and consumer search. I am also interested in public economics and computational economics.

Most of my research looks at the governance and strategy of organisations. In particular I am interested in organisations that seem to be behaving in counterintuitive ways. For instance all around the world governments often spend disproportionately large amounts of money in the few months at the end of the fiscal year and in the private sector firms often advertise against their rivals even though by doing so they may face greater competition from these rival firms.

In projects like this I look into whether these behaviours are as a result of a strategy or perhaps reflect some form of a problem in organisational governance. I try to analyse the effects on market efficiency and what steps a government or regulator might take to improve the outcome of the market. My approach is primarily theoretical but (when I can get the data) I have also used empirical techniques to test these theories.

If you are interested in my research but don't have an economics background then please find some nontechnical explanations of my papers here.

Comparative Advertising: The role of prices

In markets where firms sell similar goods to their competitors, firms may be able to free-ride off the costly price signalling of competitor firms by engaging in price comparative advertising. As the goods are similar consumers can reason that if one good is high quality (revealed for instance through price signalling) then so is the other. This paper models this phenomenon and finds that in equilibrium there will be firms price signalling as well as freeriding firms that signal through advertising. Surplus is strictly higher in markets where advertising firms are active relative to pure price signalling markets. In some cases advertising markets can be even more efficient than full information markets as advertisers surrender market power to avoid costly price signalling.

JEL Codes: D82, D83, M37

Keywords: Comparative advertising, Price Signalling

Version as MPRA Paper No. 79872

It's good to be bad: A model of low quality dominance in a full information consumer search market (with Margaryta Klymak)

This paper examines a consumer search market exhibiting vertically differentiated firms, heterogeneous consumers and endogenous consumer market entry. In an asymmetric information setting high and low quality firms make equal sales and profit in this market. Conversely when there is full information, search frictions induce an unravelling mechanism that leads to a unique refined equilibrium where all consumers approach low quality firms and high quality firms make no sales or profit. This presents a rationale for why low quality firms may disclose their quality and high quality firms may not even when disclosure is costless.

JEL Codes: D82, D83, L15

Keywords: Quality Disclosure, Consumer Search

Version as Edinburgh School of Economics discussion paper 280

Putting it off for later - Procrastination and end of fiscal year spending spikes

Many governments internationally exhibit heightened end of the fiscal year spending. These end of fiscal year spending spikes often concern policy makers due to their tendency to result in lower quality spending. This paper uses UK data to offer evidence against the precautionary savings explanation for spending spikes. An alternate explanation is offered with procrastination driving heightened end of fiscal year spending. A new technique of time variant budgetary taxes is calibrated to the model and shown to be effective for smoothing spending and improving spending efficiency throughout the fiscal year.

JEL Codes: H11, H50, H61

Keywords: Government spending, fiscal year distortions

Older version as Edinburgh School of Economics discussion paper 260