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Exploiting Future Settlements: A Signalling Model of Most-Favored-Nation Clauses In Settlement Bargaining

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  • Andrew F. Daughety

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Law School, Vanderbilt University)

  • Jennifer F. Reinganum

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Law School, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

"Most-favored-nation" (hereafter, MFN) clauses have been used in analyses of international trade, durable goods monopoly pricing, and franchise contracting to address a repeat player's time-inconsistency problem. Recent work by Spier (forthcoming and 2002) has extended this perspective to the settlements of litigation by (for example) one defendant with a collection of plaintiffs. We examine a different motivation for the use of MFNs in settlement bargaining. We argue that a non-repeat player can use an MFN to extend her reach into subsequent bargaining games. That is, an early-bargaining plaintiff can use an MFN to modify the subsequent bargaining game between the defendant and a later-bargaining plaintiff in a manner that improves the early plaintiff's payoff. Moreover, we will identify two routes through which this improvement is achieved. The obvious route is that, if the MFN is triggered by the later settlement, the early plaintiff receives an additional payment. The less obvious route is that the early plaintiff's incentives for information-revelation can be enhanced by the potential for a future payment, so that the defendant can resort to trial on a less-frequent basis. Using a signaling model, we find that the repeat player (the defendant) is indifferent about the MFN, while the later plaintiff is always worse off when an MFN constrains her settlement bargaining with the defendant. Although MFNs can never provide a Pareto improvement in this model, we demonstrate that plausible circumstances exist under which total surplus is increased by an MFN.

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File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu02-w21.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2002
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0221.

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Date of creation: Aug 2002
Date of revision: Oct 2002
Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0221

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Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

Related research

Keywords: Settlement bargaining; signalling; most-favored-nation clauses;

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References

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  1. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "Durable-Goods Monopolists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 314-32, April.
  2. Choi, J.P., 1992. "Optimal Tariffs and the Choice of Technology Discriminatory Tariffs vs. the "Most Favored Nation" Clause," Discussion Papers 1992_46, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  3. Butz, David A, 1990. "Durable-Good Monopoly and Best-Price Provisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1062-76, December.
  4. Coase, Ronald H, 1972. "Durability and Monopoly," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 143-49, April.
  5. Neilson, William S. & Winter, Harold, 1994. "Enhancing bargaining power with most-favored-customer pricing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(1-2), pages 61-66.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1987. "Contracts as a Barrier to Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 388-401, June.
  7. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1999. "Hush Money," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(4), pages 661-678, Winter.
  8. Jennifer F. Reinganum & Louise L. Wilde, 1986. "Settlement, Litigation, and the Allocation of Litigation Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 557-566, Winter.
  9. Stephan, Levy, 2004. "Best-price Guarantees as a Quality Signal," MPRA Paper 13466, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Nov 2004.
  10. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2002. "Informational Externalities in Settlement Bargaining: Confidentiality and Correlated Culpability," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 587-604, Winter.
  11. McAfee, R Preston & Schwartz, Marius, 1994. "Opportunism in Multilateral Vertical Contracting: Nondiscrimination, Exclusivity, and Uniformity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 210-30, March.
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