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An Equilibrium Theory of Rationing

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  • Gilbert, Richard
  • Klemperer, Paul

Abstract

Setting a price that results in rationing may be optimal for a seller whose customers must make a specific investment to be able to use his product. Although rationing results in ex post inefficiency, the resulting distribution of ex post surplus compensates consumers for their transaction-specific costs, while allowing the seller to earn higher profits than with market-clearing prices. Committing to a single price, and rationing if there is excess demand, can be more profitable than setting state-contingent prices that always clear the market. Variants of our basic model provide insights into overbooking practices by the airline industry, declining price paths combined with rationing to favour loyal customers, discriminatory pricing arrangements, second-sourcing, and sticky wages.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 805.

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Date of creation: Jul 1993
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:805

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Keywords: Rationing; Sunk Costs;

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References

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  1. Stole, Lars A., 1994. "Information expropriation and moral hazard in optimal second-source auctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 463-484, July.
  2. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  3. Png, I P L, 1991. "Most-Favored-Customer Protection versus Price Discrimination over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1010-28, October.
  4. M. L. Weitzman, 1974. "Is the Price System or Rationing More Effective in Getting a Commodity to Those Who Need It Most?," Working papers 140, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
  6. Margaret E. Slade, 1991. "Strategic Pricing with Customer Rationing: The Case of Primary Metals," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(1), pages 70-100, February.
  7. Rotemberg, Julio J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1990. "Inflexible Prices and Procyclical Productivity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 851-74, November.
  8. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pascal Courty, 2009. "Unpriced Quality," Economics Working Papers ECO2009/16, European University Institute.
  2. James Peck, 1995. "Competition in Transactions Mechanisms: The Emergence of Price Competition," Working Papers 022, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Hyytinen, Ari & Väänänen, Lotta, 2004. "Could Mr. and Mrs. Capital Market Imperfection Please Step Forward? An Empirical Analysis of Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard in Capital Markets," Discussion Papers 887, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  4. Ken Binmore & Paul Klemperer, 2001. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licenses," Economics Papers 2002-W4, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, revised 01 Sep 2001.
  5. Michael J. Dueker, 2000. "Are prime rate changes asymmetric?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 33-40.
  6. Henk Folmer & Auke Leen, 2013. "Why do successful restaurants not raise their prices?," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 81-90, July.
  7. Greve,T. & Pollitt, M. G., 2012. "Designing electiricty transmission auctions: an introduction to the relevant literature," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1245, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  8. Paul Klemperer, 2000. "Why Every Economist Should Learn Some Auction Theory," Microeconomics 0004009, EconWPA.

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