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What do Facilitating Practices Facilitate? An Empirical Investigation of Most-Favored-Nation Clauses in Natural Gas Contracts

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  • Crocker, Keith J
  • Lyon, Thomas P

Abstract

Long-term contracts often include most-favored-nation clauses (MFNs), which are nondiscrimination guarantees that obligate a buyer or seller to treat all trading partners symmetrically in pricing decisions. Recent theoretical work has shown that such clauses can facilitate tacit collusion by increasing the cost of selective price changes aimed at attracting new business. An alternative view is that MFNs serve to facilitate efficient price adjustment in extended exchange relationships. We test these competing hypotheses using data from long-term natural gas contracts, many of which employ MFNs. Our conclusion is that the pattern of MFN adoption, in conjunction with the structure of the nondiscrimination regions and the parallels with other nonstrategic price escalation provisions, lends strong support to the efficiency rationale. Copyright 1994 by the University of Chicago.

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  • Crocker, Keith J & Lyon, Thomas P, 1994. "What do Facilitating Practices Facilitate? An Empirical Investigation of Most-Favored-Nation Clauses in Natural Gas Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 297-322, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:37:y:1994:i:2:p:297-322
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    1. Joskow, Paul L, 1988. "Price Adjustment in Long-term Contracts: The Case of Coal," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 47-83, April.
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    5. Masten, Scott E, 1988. "Minimum Bill Contracts: Theory and Policy," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 85-97, September.
    6. Crocker, Keith J & Masten, Scott E, 1991. "Pretia ex Machina? Prices and Process in Long-Term Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 69-99, April.
    7. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
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    9. Masten, Scott E & Crocker, Keith J, 1985. "Efficient Adaptation in Long-term Contracts: Take-or-Pay Provisions for Natural Gas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1083-1093, December.
    10. Belton, Terrence M., 1987. "A model of duopoly and meeting or beating competition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 399-417.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fiona Scott Morton, 1996. "The Strategic Response by Pharmaceutical Firms to the Medicaid Most-Favored-Customer Rules," NBER Working Papers 5717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gaynor, Martin & Vogt, William B., 2000. "Antitrust and competition in health care markets," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 27, pages 1405-1487 Elsevier.
    3. Edlin, Aaron S & Emch, Eric R, 1999. "The Welfare Losses from Price-Matching Policies," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 145-167, June.
    4. repec:eee:indorg:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:37-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Stephan, Levy, 2004. "Best-price Guarantees as a Quality Signal," MPRA Paper 13466, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Nov 2004.
    6. Jeffrey Church & Roger Ware, 1998. "Abuse of Dominance under the 1986 Canadian Competition Act," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 13(1), pages 85-129, April.
    7. Helm, Roland & Kloyer, Martin, 2004. "Controlling contractual exchange risks in R&D interfirm cooperation: an empirical study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1103-1122, October.
    8. Arbatskaya, Maria & Hviid, Morten & Shaffer, Greg, 2004. "On the Incidence and Variety of Low-Price Guarantees," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 307-332, April.
    9. Gönenç Gürkaynak & Ayşe Güner & Sinan Diniz & Janelle Filson, 2016. "Most-favored-nation clauses in commercial contracts: legal and economic analysis and proposal for a guideline," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 129-155, August.
    10. Spier, Kathryn E., 2001. "The Use of “Most-Favored-Nation†Clauses in Settlement of Litigation," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt7hm4d39g, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.

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