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Competition through Commissions and Kickbacks

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Author Info

  • Roman Inderst
  • Marco Ottaviani

Abstract

In markets for retail financial products and health services, consumers often rely on the advice of intermediaries to decide which specialized offering best fits their needs. Product providers, in turn, compete to influence the intermediaries' advice through hidden kickbacks or disclosed commissions. Motivated by the controversial role of these widespread practices, we formulate a model to analyze competition through commissions from a positive and normative standpoint. The model highlights the role of commissions in making the advisor responsive to supply-side incentives. We characterize situations when commonly adopted policies such as mandatory disclosure and caps on commissions have unintended welfare consequences. (JEL D21, D82, D83, G21, L15, L25)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.102.2.780
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 780-809

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:780-809

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References

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  1. Bester, Helmut, 1992. "Bertrand Equilibrium in a Differentiated Duopoly," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(2), pages 433-48, May.
  2. Morgan, John & Stocken, Phillip C, 2003. " An Analysis of Stock Recommendations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 183-203, Spring.
  3. Cynthia J. Pahl, 2007. "A compilation of state mortgage broker laws and regulations, 1996-2006," Community Affairs Report 2007-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Giuseppe Moscarini & Marco Ottaviani, 1998. "Price Competition for an Informed Buyer," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1199, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Juan-JosÈ Ganuza & JosÈ S. Penalva, 2010. "Signal Orderings Based on Dispersion and the Supply of Private Information in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 1007-1030, 05.
  6. Alessandro Lizzeri, 1999. "Information Revelation and Certification Intermediaries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 214-231, Summer.
  7. Li, Ming & Madarász, Kristóf, 2008. "When mandatory disclosure hurts: Expert advice and conflicting interests," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 139(1), pages 47-74, March.
  8. Mark V. Pauly, 1979. "The Ethics and Economics of Kickbacks and Fee Splitting," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 344-352, Spring.
  9. Heski Bar-Isaac & Guillermo Caruana & Vicente Cuñat, 2010. "Information Gathering and Marketing," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 375-401, 06.
  10. Gary Biglaiser, 1993. "Middlemen as Experts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 212-223, Summer.
  11. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1994. "Supplying Information to Facilitate Price Discrimination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 309-27, May.
  12. Daylian M. Cain & George Loewenstein & Don A. Moore, 2005. "The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, 01.
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Cited by:
  1. Wonsuk Chung & Rick Harbaugh, 2012. "Biased Recommendations," Working Papers 2012-02, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  2. Opp, Christian C. & Opp, Marcus M. & Harris, Milton, 2013. "Rating agencies in the face of regulation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 46-61.
  3. Sergei Kovbasyuk, 2013. "Seller - paid Ratings," EIEF Working Papers Series 1330, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Nov 2013.
  4. Angelova, Vera & Regner, Tobias, 2013. "Do voluntary payments to advisors improve the quality of financial advice? An experimental deception game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 205-218.
  5. Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2012. "Financial Advice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(2), pages 494-512, June.
  6. Archishman Chakraborty & Rick Harbaugh, 2012. "Persuasive Puffery," Working Papers 2012-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.

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