Columbia University

Patrick Bolton is the Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business, and Co-Director of the Center for Contracts and Economic Organization at the Columbia Law School. His areas of interest are in contracting issues in corporate finance and industrial organization. A central focus of his work is on the allocation of control and decision rights to contracting parties when long-term contracts are incomplete. This issue is relevant in many different contexts including: the firm’s choice of optimal debt structure, corporate governance, the boundaries of the firm, and constitution design. His work in industrial organization focuses on antitrust economics and the potential anticompetitive effects of various contracting practices. He recently published Contract Theory, MIT Press (2005), with Mathias Dewatripont and co-edited Credit Markets for the Poor, Russell Sage Foundation (2005), with Howard Rosenthal.


  • The Economics of Contracts (International Library of Critical Writings in Economics)

    Patrick Bolton, Barbara and David Zalaznick
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    The Economics of Contracts provides a guided tour to the leading ideas in contract theory. It assembles some of the foundational writings on contracting under limited and asymmetric information, incentives and mechanism design. It contains, in particular, the key contributions of five recent Nobel Prize winners in economics and brings together the most important articles that have followed these path-breaking works.(Edward Elgar Pub)



  • Credits Markets for the Poor

    Ed. Patrick Bolton and Howard Rosenthal
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    Access to credit is an important means of providing people with the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Loans are essential for most people who want to purchase a home, start a business, pay for college, or weather a spell of unemployment. Yet many people in poor and minority communities—regardless of their creditworthiness—find credit hard to come by, making the climb out of poverty extremely difficult. How dire are the lending markets in these communities and what can be done to improve access to credit for disadvantaged groups? In Credit Markets for the Poor, editors Patrick Bolton and Howard Rosenthal and an expert team of economists, political scientists, and legal and business scholars tackle these questions with shrewd analysis and a wealth of empirical data.

    With clarity and insightful analysis, Credit Markets for the Poor demonstrates how weak credit markets are impeding the social and economic mobility of the needy. By detailing the many disadvantages that impoverished people face when seeking to borrow, this important new volume highlights a significant national problem and offers solutions for the future. (Russell Sage Foundation Publications)


  • Contract Theory

    Patrick Bolton, Mathias Dewatripont
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    Despite the vast research literature on topics relating to contract theory, only a few of the field's core ideas are covered in microeconomics textbooks. This long-awaited book fills the need for a comprehensive textbook on contract theory suitable for use at the graduate and advanced undergraduate levels. It covers the areas of agency theory, information economics, and organization theory, highlighting common themes and methodologies and presenting the main ideas in an accessible way. It also presents many applications in all areas of economics, especially labor economics, industrial organization, and corporate finance. The book emphasizes applications rather than general theorems while providing self-contained, intuitive treatment of the simple models analyzed. In this way, it can also serve as a reference for researchers interested in building contract-theoretic models in applied contexts.The book covers all the major topics in contract theory taught in most graduate courses. It begins by discussing such basic ideas in incentive and information theory as screening, signaling, and moral hazard. Subsequent sections treat multilateral contracting with private information or hidden actions, covering auction theory, bilateral trade under private information, and the theory of the internal organization of firms; long-term contracts with private information or hidden actions; and incomplete contracts, the theory of ownership and control, and contracting with externalities. Each chapter ends with a guide to the relevant literature. Exercises appear in a separate chapter at the end of the book.