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Consumer biases and mutual ownership

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  • Bubb, Ryan
  • Kaufman, Alex

Abstract

We show how ownership of the firm by its customers, as well as nonprofit status, can prevent firms from using contractual terms that take advantage of consumer biases. By eliminating an outside residual claimant with control over the firm, these alternatives to investor ownership reduce the incentive of the firm to offer such terms. However, customers who are unaware of their behavioral biases may fail to recognize this advantage of non-investor-owned firms. We present evidence from the consumer financial services market that supports our theory. Comparing contract terms, we find that mutually owned firms offer lower penalties, such as default interest rates, and higher up-front prices, such as introductory interest rates, than do investor-owned firms. However, consumers most vulnerable to these penalties are no more likely to use mutually owned firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Bubb, Ryan & Kaufman, Alex, 2013. "Consumer biases and mutual ownership," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 39-57.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:105:y:2013:i:c:p:39-57
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Viktar Fedaseyeu, 2012. "Debt Collection Agencies and the Supply of Consumer Credit," Working Papers 442, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Michael D. Grubb, 2015. "Overconfident Consumers in the Marketplace," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 9-36, Fall.
    3. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Behavioral Consumers in Industrial Organization: An Overview," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 247-258, November.
    4. Elizabeth Bailey, 2015. "Behavioral Economics and U.S. Antitrust Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 355-366, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer biases; Mutual ownership; Nonprofits; Credit unions;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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