Case Study

Question 1: 

Mars and Hershey’s dominate the domestic chocolate candy bar business. In this mature market, advertising by individual firms does little to convince more people to eat candy. Effective advertising simply steals sales from rivals. Big profit gains could be had if these rivals could simply agree to stop advertising. Assume Mars and Hershey’s are trying to set optimal advertising strategies. Mars can choose either row in the payoff matrix defined below, whereas Hershey’s can choose either column. The first number in each cell is Mars payoff; the second number is the payoff to Hershey’s. This is a one-shot, simultaneous-move game and the first number in each cell is the profit payoff to Mars. The second number is the profit payoff to Hershey’s.

  1. Briefly describe the Nash equilibrium concept.
  2. Is there a Nash equilibrium strategy for each firm? If so, what is it?

 

 

Question 2:

 Every year, management and labor renegotiate a new employment contract by sending their proposals to an arbitrator who chooses the best proposal (effectively giving one side or the other $1 million). Each side can choose to hire, or not hire, an expensive labor lawyer (at a cost of $200,000) who is effective at preparing the proposal in the best light. If neither hires lawyers or if both hire lawyers, each side can expect to win about half the time. If only one side hires a lawyer, it can expect to win three-quarters of the time.

  1. Diagram this simultaneous move game.
  2. What is the Nash Equilibrium of the game?
  3. Would the sides want to ban lawyers?

 

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Question 3:

Suppose you’re the manager of global opportunities for a U.S. manufacturer, who is considering expanding sales into Europe. Your market research has identified three potential market opportunities: England, France, and Germany. If you enter the English market, you have a 0.5 chance of big success (selling 100,000 units at a per-unit profit of $8), a 0.3 chance of moderate success (selling 60,000 units at a per-unit profit of $6), and a 0.2 chance of failure (selling nothing). If you enter the French market, you have a 0.4 chance of big success (selling 120,000 units at a per-unit profit of $9), a 0.4 chance of moderate success (selling 50,000 units at a per-unit profit of $6), and a 0.2 chance of failure (selling nothing). If you enter the German market, you have a 0.2 chance of huge success (selling 150,000 units at a per-unit profit of $10), a 0.5 chance of moderate success (selling 70,000 units at a per-unit profit of $6), and a 0.3 chance of failure (selling nothing). If you can enter only one market, and the cost of entering the market (regardless of which market you select) is $250,000, should you enter one of the European markets? If so, which one? If you enter, what is your expected profit?

 

After you answer the first portion of this question (and please feel free to answer in parts), elaborate upon your data-informed definition of risk – i.e.,  what is risk in business?  What is uncertainty? In other words, what is the difference between the two?  What are strategies we can use to reduce uncertainty?

 

 

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Question 4:

Please watch John Gruber’s MIT lecture on “Healthcare Economics” (this is an actual class session at MIT):

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/economics/14-01sc-principles-of-microeconomics-fall-2011/unit-7-equity-and-efficiency/healthcare-economics/

 

After you watch the video, discuss the problems of adverse selection and moral hazard in the context of healthcare.  In your discussion, emphasize how policy must change in order to address these issues.  Finally, can you think of other applications of adverse selection and moral hazard besides healthcare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Question 5:

A large, well-established home insurance company writes insurance policies to cover losses from fire, theft, and vandalism.  In a recent financial review, managers discovered that company performance was lagging behind projections.  They examined pricing and claims history in more detail and identified a group of about 10,000 customers whose claims far exceeded the collected premiums.  Members of the actuarial group, whose compensation was partially tied to profitability of the policies they priced, were particularly frustrated.  How would you recommend the insurer address this problem?

 

Before continuing, first answer the following 3 questions to diagnose and solve the problem.  Then, please elaborate in your answer to the question above.

 

1) Who is making the bad decision?

 

2) Do the actuaries have enough information to make a good decision?

 

3) Do the actuaries have the incentive to make a good decision?