Growth, Degrowth: What Are We Talking About?

This little post has been written with Ewen Gallic,

End of the world, end of the month – same fight!” can often be seen on signs during various demonstrations, in France, but also as the title of the inaugural lesson at the Collège de France by economist Christian Gollier, reminding us that climate change and the economy are facing off in a battle that promises to be bloody. “Growth” seems to be a key element in this battle, but this battle will likely remain in vain as long as this term is not clearly discussed, allowing us to leave the often dogmatic trenches.
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Croissance, décroissance, de quoi parle-t-on ?

Ce petit billet a été coécrit avec Ewen Gallic,

« Fin du monde, fin du mois, même combat, » peut-on lire régulièrement sur des pancartes et les banderoles, lors de diverses manifestations, mais aussi comme titre de leçon inaugurale au Collège de France de l’économiste Christian Gollier, rappelant que le changement climatique et l’économie se font face dans un combat qui s’annonce sanglant. La “croissance” semble être un élément clé dans ce combat, mais ce dernier restera probablement vain tant que ce terme ne serra pas clairement discuté, permettant de quitter des tranchées souvent dogmatiques.
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2024 Optimization Days, (algorithmic) collusions in games

Tomorrow, I will attend the 2024 Optimization Days, in Montréal. I will present some work we did last Fall with Philipp Ratz and Suzie Grondin, on (algorithmic) collusions in games, “Market Pricing with Reinforcement Learning” (the paper will be available soon)

Several recent articles have attempted to gain a better understanding of algorithmic collusion (Calvano et al. (2020), Klein (2021), Banchio & Mantegazza (2022) Rocher et al. (2023)). For example, in Calvano et al. (2020), a simulation study showed that for a simplified market environment, basic Q-Learning Agents can learn to collude tacitly, in order to propose higher prices and increase their combined profit. Inspired by some Iterated Prisoners Dilemma, we derive some reinforcement learning algorithm to investigate and discuss several recent results and their robustness, and explain how reinforcement learning differs from simpler strategies and which conditions lead to unfavorable outcomes from a consumer perspective. In particular, we first describe the reinforcement learning problem in a more general manner and investigate the influence of the hyper-parameters. We then consider two situations separately. One, similar in spirit to Rocher et al. (2023), assumes that the market is in equilibrium and that a general agent tries to exploit a pricing strategy of an incumbent agent. The second, more general, approach consists of an agent continuously updating their own policy.

The starting point was Calvano et al. (2020),

For classical games, the mathematical framework is the following

for example, with the prisoner’s dilemma

Then, consider repeated games, and possible collusion

The next step is to include randomness, with (dynamic) stochastic games

and standard equations

(I describe quickly the different concepts). Finally, we can move from here to reinforcement learning, and Q-learning

The idea will be to play (or to interact) to learn that matrix

with the following interpretations, for the different parameters

Then, we will play a little bit, on the framework introduced to present the prisoner’s dilemma, for instance to understand the importance of \beta, using in the \epsilon-greedy approach, with \epsilon_t=\exp(-\beta t)

That is our first approach to the concept of collusion : agents don’t need to “cooperate” to have collusion

Then, we will use the experiment of Calvano et al. (2020) to get more complex discussions…

Non Life Insurance Mathematics

A long time ago, with Michel Denuit, we published a long textbook (in two volumes), in French, entitled “Mathématiques de l’Assurance Non-Vie”, or “Non Life Insurance Mathematics” in English. We finally decided to translate everything in English, and our textbook is now available at It is a simple plain translation of those populare textbooks… the next step is maybe to update them a little bit…