Pricing Discretion and Price Regulation in Competitive Industries
Price capped firms enjoy a large degree of pricing discretion, which may harm customers and competition. We study two alternative regulatory regimes to limit it: the first regime (Absolute) places a fixed upper limit to the prices charged in captive markets, while the other regime (Relative) constrains the captive prices relatively to the competitive ones. Under the Relative regime, captive prices are only weakly lower and competitive prices are always higher than under the Absolute regime. However, the number of competitors and/or their output may be higher under the Relative regime. While the effects on aggregate welfare are ambiguous, there is some evidence that the Relative regime is more likely to increase consumers’ surplus and social welfare the more efficient are the competitors. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006
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