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Competition through Commissions and Kickbacks

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

Suggested Citation

  • Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2012. "Competition through Commissions and Kickbacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 780-809, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:780-809
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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