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Sunk costs, contestability, and the latent contract market

  • Chris Stefanadis

The idea that an industry with sunk costs may be contestable even in the absence of long-term contracts has received little attention from formal economic theory yet is popular among monopolists facing antitrust suits. The paper formally illustrates the argument. In an infinitely repeated game, there exists a class of contestable outcomes in which the monopolist sells only on the spot market and charges low prices along the equilibrium path to prevent customers from resorting to long-term contracts. Then, the crucial test for contestability is the level of transaction costs in the latent contract market.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 75.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:75
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  1. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "Nash Equilibrium and the Industrial Organization of Markets with Large Fixed Costs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1149-72, September.
  2. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Limit Pricing and Entry under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 443-59, March.
  3. J. Tirole & E. Maskin, 1982. "A Theory of Dynamic Oligopoly, I: Overview and Quantity Competition with Large-Fixed Costs," Working papers 320, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-61, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Rasmusen, E. & Fernandez, L., 1993. "Perfectly Contestable Monopoly and Adverse Selection," Papers 93-016, Indiana - Center for Econometric Model Research.
  7. Elie Appelbaum & Chin Lim, 1985. "Contestable Markets under Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 28-40, Spring.
  8. Innes, Robert & Sexton, Richard J, 1994. "Strategic Buyers and Exclusionary Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 566-84, June.
  9. Baumol, William J & Panzar, John C & Willig, Robert D, 1983. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 491-96, June.
  10. Innes, Robert & Sexton, Richard J., 1993. "Customer coalitions, monopoly price discrimination and generic entry deterrence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1569-1597, December.
  11. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-54, May.
  12. Rasmusen, Eric B & Ramseyer, J Mark & Wiley, John S, Jr, 1991. "Naked Exclusion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1137-45, December.
  13. Katz, Michael L, 1987. "The Welfare Effects of Third-Degree Price Discrimination in," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 154-67, March.
  14. Schwartz, Marius & Reynolds, Robert J, 1983. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 488-90, June.
  15. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  16. Weitzman, Martin L, 1983. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 486-87, June.
  17. Stefanadis, Christodoulos, 1998. "Selective Contracts, Foreclosure, and the Chicago School View," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 429-50, October.
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