Asymmetric Information

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DEFINITION of 'Asymmetric Information'

A situation in which one party in a transaction has more or superior information compared to another. This often happens in transactions where the seller knows more than the buyer, although the reverse can happen as well. Potentially, this could be a harmful situation because one party can take advantage of the other party's lack of knowledge.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Asymmetric Information'

With increased advancements in technology, asymmetric information has been on the decline as a result of more and more people being able to easily access all types of information.

Information Asymmetry can lead to two main problems:
1. Adverse selection- immoral behavior that takes advantage of asymmetric information before a transaction. For example, a person who is not be in optimal health may be more inclined to purchase life insurance than someone who feels fine.
2. Moral Hazard- immoral behavior that takes advantage of asymmetric information after a transaction. For example, if someone has fire insurance they may be more likely to commit arson to reap the benefits of the insurance.

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