IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jfinec/v91y2009i3p278-287.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Strategic price complexity in retail financial markets

Author

Listed:
  • Carlin, Bruce I.

Abstract

There is mounting empirical evidence to suggest that the law of one price is violated in retail financial markets: there is significant price dispersion even when products are homogeneous. Also, despite the large number of firms in the market, prices remain above marginal cost and may even rise as more firms enter. In a non-cooperative oligopoly pricing model, I show that these anomalies arise when firms add complexity to their price structures. Complexity increases the market power of the firms because it prevents some consumers from becoming knowledgeable about prices in the market. In the model, as competition increases, firms tend to add more complexity to their prices as a best response, rather than make their disclosures more transparent. Because this may substantially decrease consumer surplus in these markets, such practices have important welfare implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlin, Bruce I., 2009. "Strategic price complexity in retail financial markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 278-287, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:91:y:2009:i:3:p:278-287
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304-405X(08)00209-2
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Paul Heidhues & Botond Köszegi, 2004. "The Impact of Consumer Loss Aversion on Pricing," CIG Working Papers SP II 2004-17, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
    2. Karen Clay & Ramayya Krishnan & Eric Wolff, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 521-539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2018. "Shrouded attributes, consumer myopia and information suppression in competitive markets," Chapters, in: Victor J. Tremblay & Elizabeth Schroeder & Carol Horton Tremblay (ed.), Handbook of Behavioral Industrial Organization, chapter 3, pages 40-74, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Weitzman, Martin L, 1979. "Optimal Search for the Best Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 641-654, May.
    5. Jeffrey M. Perloff & Steven C. Salop, 1985. "Equilibrium with Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 107-120.
    6. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2007. "Down or Out: Assessing the Welfare Costs of Household Investment Mistakes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 707-747, October.
    7. Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510.
    8. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
    9. Carlson, John A & McAfee, R Preston, 1983. "Discrete Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 480-493, June.
    10. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Information, Search, and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 2006-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    11. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1999. "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1299-1318, December.
    12. Susan E. K. Christoffersen & David K. Musto, 2002. "Demand Curves and the Pricing of Money Management," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(5), pages 1499-1524.
    13. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    14. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2010. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1405-1432, April.
    15. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
    16. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1553-1604, August.
    17. Richard C. Green, 2007. "Presidential Address: Issuers, Underwriter Syndicates, and Aftermarket Transparency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1529-1550, August.
    18. Jeffrey R. Brown & Austan Goolsbee, 2002. "Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence from the Life Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 481-507, June.
    19. Paul C. Tetlock, 2007. "Giving Content to Investor Sentiment: The Role of Media in the Stock Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(3), pages 1139-1168, June.
    20. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1980. "A Model in Which an Increase in the Number of Sellers Leads to a Higher Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1575-1579, September.
    21. Karen Clay & Ramayya Krishnan & Eric Wolff, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 521-539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
    23. Alexander, Gordon J. & Jones, Jonathan D. & Nigro, Peter J., 1998. "Mutual fund shareholders: characteristics, investor knowledge, and sources of information," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 301-316.
    24. Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
    25. Green, Richard C. & Hollifield, Burton & Schurhoff, Norman, 2007. "Dealer intermediation and price behavior in the aftermarket for new bond issues," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 643-682, December.
    26. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean & Lu Zheng, 2005. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Effects of Expenses on Mutual Fund Flows," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(6), pages 2095-2120, November.
    27. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Hongyi Li, 2005. "Extreme Value Theory and the Effects of Competition on Profits," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000656, UCLA Department of Economics.
    28. Robert, Jacques & Stahl, Dale O, II, 1993. "Informative Price Advertising in a Sequential Search Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 657-686, May.
    29. Daniel Bergstresser & John M. R. Chalmers & Peter Tufano, 2009. "Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Brokers in the Mutual Fund Industry," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(10), pages 4129-4156, October.
    30. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Bruce I. Carlin & Simon Gervais, 2009. "Legal Protection in Retail Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 14972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Backus, Matthew R. & Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2014. "Search costs and equilibrium price dispersion in auction markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 173-192.
    3. Bruce I. Carlin & Florian Ederer, 2019. "Search Fatigue," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 54(3), pages 485-508, May.
    4. Anania, Giovanni & Nisticò, Rosanna, 2014. "Price dispersion and seller heterogeneity in retail food markets," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 190-201.
    5. Glenn Ellison & Alexander Wolitzky, 2012. "A search cost model of obfuscation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(3), pages 417-441, September.
    6. Gatti, J.R.J. & Kattuman, P., 2003. "Online Price Dispersion Within and Between Seven European Countries," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0343, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Wilson, Chris M., 2010. "Ordered search and equilibrium obfuscation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 496-506, September.
    8. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2009. "Brand and Price Advertising in Online Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(7), pages 1139-1151, July.
    9. Jeffrey R. Brown & Austan Goolsbee, 2002. "Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence from the Life Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 481-507, June.
    10. Alfredo Martin-Oliver & Vicente Salas-Fumas & Jesús Saurina, 2008. "Search Cost and Price Dispersion in Vertically Related Markets: The Case of Bank Loans and Deposits," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 33(4), pages 297-323, December.
    11. Xulia González & Daniel Miles-Touya, 2018. "Price dispersion, chain heterogeneity, and search in online grocery markets," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 115-139, March.
    12. Bruce Ian Carlin & Gustavo Manso, 2009. "Obfuscation, Learning, and the Evolution of Investor Sophistication," NBER Working Papers 14954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Lindgren, Charlie & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Rudholm, Niklas, 2021. "Pricing In Retail Markets With Low Search Costs: Evidence From A Price Comparison Website," HFI Working Papers 18, Institute of Retail Economics (Handelns Forskningsinstitut).
    14. Randy A. Nelson & Richard Cohen & Frederik Roy Rasmussen, 2007. "An Analysis of Pricing Strategy and Price Dispersion on the Internet," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 95-110, Winter.
    15. Bernd Jost, 2012. "Price Dispersion, Search Costs and Spatial Competition: Evidence from the Austrian Retail Gasoline Market," NEURUS papers neurusp166, NEURUS - Network of European and US Regional and Urban Studies.
    16. Alfredo Martín-Oliver & Vicente Salas-Fumás & Jesús Saurina, 2005. "Interest rate dispersion in deposit and loan markets," Working Papers 0506, Banco de España.
    17. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2005. "Lessons About Markets from the Internet," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 139-158, Spring.
    18. Cason, Timothy N. & Friedman, Daniel, 2003. "Buyer search and price dispersion: a laboratory study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 232-260, October.
    19. Michael R. Baye & J. Rupert J. Gatti & Paul Kattuman & John Morgan, 2009. "Clicks, Discontinuities, and Firm Demand Online," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 935-975, December.
    20. Bruce Carlin & Arna Olafsson & Michaela Pagel, 2017. "FinTech Adoption Across Generations: Financial Fitness in the Information Age," NBER Working Papers 23798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:91:y:2009:i:3:p:278-287. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.