Exclusive dealing with costly rent extraction
We analyze the impact of exclusive contracts on the intensity of competition among firms that supply substitute products. Exclusive contracts would be neutral if firms priced at marginal cost and extracted buyers' rent by means of non distortionary fixed fees. We focus instead on the case in which rent extraction is costly, and hence firms distort marginal prices upwards. We show that in this case exclusive contracts are anti-competitive when the dominant firm enjoys a large enough competitive advantage over its rivals, and are pro-competitive, or neutral, when the competitive advantage is small. These effects appear as soon as marginal prices are distorted upwards, irrespective of which specific factors impede perfect rent extraction.
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