Most-favored-customer pricing, product variety, and welfare
Most-favored-customer (MFC) clauses are usually seen as anticompetitive co-ordination devices that firms adopt for the purpose of higher prices. Here, I examine the welfare impact of MFC clauses under endogenous product variety. Product variety is relevant because prospective higher prices from MFC clauses can be anticipated by multi-product firms in their provision of product lines. Under such circumstances, I find that these clauses can be socially harmful, but this is not always the case: they tend to be socially neutral for relatively large fixed costs of product-line assortment, harmful for intermediate costs, and beneficial for relatively small costs.
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