[W5] - Quick or cheap? Breaking points in dynamic markets

P. Mertikopoulos, H. H. Nax, and B. S. R. Pradelski. Working paper.


We examine two-sided markets where players arrive stochastically over time and are drawn from a continuum of types. The cost of matching a client and provider varies, so a social planner is faced with two contending objectives: a) to reduce players’ waiting time before getting matched; and b) to form efficient pairs in order to reduce matching costs. We show that such markets are characterized by a quick or cheap dilemma: Under a large class of distributional assumptions, there is no ‘free lunch’, i.e., there exists no clearing schedule that is simultaneously optimal along both objectives. We further identify a unique breaking point signifying a stark reduction in matching cost contrasted by an increase in waiting time. Generalizing this model, we identify two regimes: one, where no free lunch exists; the other, where a window of opportunity opens to achieve a free lunch. Remarkably, greedy scheduling is never optimal in this setting.

arXiv link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2001.00468

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