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An Equilibrium Theory of Rationing

  • Richard J. Gilbert
  • Paul Klemperer

Committing to prices that result in rationing may be more profitable than setting market-clearing prices if customers must make sunk investments to enter the market. Rationing is ex post inefficient, but it gives more surplus to lower-value customers who are the marginal consumers the monopolists want to tempt to make investments. Similarly, a monopsonist may procure some requirements from high-cost "second sources" rather than purchase only from the lowest-cost suppliers. The model contributes to the theory of auctions with endogenous entry, and it may also help explain "efficiency wages," "second prizes," and "fair" behavior.

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Article provided by The RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:31:y:2000:i:spring:p:1-21
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  1. Png, I P L, 1991. "Most-Favored-Customer Protection versus Price Discrimination over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1010-28, October.
  2. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
  3. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  5. Martin L. Weitzman, 1977. "Is the Price System or Rationing More Effective in Getting a Commodity to Those Who Need It Most?," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(2), pages 517-524, Autumn.
  6. Margaret E. Slade, 1991. "Strategic Pricing with Customer Rationing: The Case of Primary Metals," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(1), pages 70-100, February.
  7. Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1990. "Inflexible Prices and Procyclical Productivity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(4), pages 851-874.
  8. Stole, Lars A., 1994. "Information expropriation and moral hazard in optimal second-source auctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 463-484, July.
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