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Competitive Cross-Subsidization


  • Chen, Zhijun
  • Rey, Patrick


This paper analyzes competitive pricing policies by multiproduct firms facing heterogeneous buying patterns. We show that cross-subsidization arises when firms have comparative advantages on different products but are equally efficient overall: Firms earn a profit from multi-stop shoppers by charging positive margins on their strong products but, as price competition for one-stop shoppers drives total margins down to zero, they price weaker products below cost. Banning below-cost pricing leads to higher profits and higher prices for one-stop shoppers, and may reduce consumer surplus as well as total social welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Zhijun & Rey, Patrick, 2013. "Competitive Cross-Subsidization," IDEI Working Papers 808, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:27776

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Berg, Sanford V. & Weisman, Dennis L., 1992. "A guide to cross- subsidization and price predation : Ten myths," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 447-459, August.
    2. Rey, Patrick & Tirole, Jean, 2013. "Price Caps as Welfare-Enhancing Coopetition," TSE Working Papers 13-439, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jan 2018.
    3. Zhijun Chen & Patrick Rey, 2012. "Loss Leading as an Exploitative Practice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3462-3482, December.
    4. Faulhaber, Gerald R, 1975. "Cross-Subsidization: Pricing in Public Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 966-977, December.
    5. Rey, Patrick & Tirole, Jean, 2013. "Cooperation vs. Collusion: How Essentiality Shapes Co-opetition," IDEI Working Papers 801, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    6. Paul Klemperer & A. Jorge Padilla, 1997. "Do Firms' Product Lines Include Too Many Varieties?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 472-488, Autumn.
    7. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2010. "Competitive Non-linear Pricing and Bundling," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 30-60.
    8. Paul R. Messinger & Chakravarthi Narasimhan, 1997. "A Model of Retail Formats Based on Consumers' Economizing on Shopping Time," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(1), pages 1-23.
    9. Klemperer, Paul, 1992. "Equilibrium Product Lines: Competing Head-to-Head May Be Less Competitive," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 740-755, September.
    10. Weinstein, Jonathan & Ambrus, Attila, 2008. "Price dispersion and loss leaders," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(4), December.
    11. Gijsbrechts, E. & Campo, K. & Nisol, P., 2005. "Beyond Promotion-Based Store Switching : Antecedents and Consequences of Systematic Multiple-Store Shopping," Discussion Paper 2005-76, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    12. Baye, Michael R. & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G., 1992. "It takes two to tango: Equilibria in a model of sales," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 493-510, October.
    13. repec:oup:jcomle:v:1:y:2005:i:3:p:441-448. is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Lal, Rajiv & Matutes, Carmen, 1994. "Retail Pricing and Advertising Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67(3), pages 345-370, July.
    15. DeGraba, Patrick, 2006. "The loss leader is a turkey: Targeted discounts from multi-product competitors," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 613-628, May.
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    17. Rao, P. M. & Klein, Joseph A., 1992. "Antitrust issues concerning R&D cross-subsidization : A case study of US telecommunications," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 415-424, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Caprice, Stéphane & Shekhar, Shiva, 2017. "Negative consumer value and loss leading," DICE Discussion Papers 271, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    2. Jorge Florez-Acosta & Daniel Herrera-Araujo, 2017. "Multiproduct retailing and buyer power: The effects of product delisting on consumer shopping behavior," PSE Working Papers halshs-01518146, HAL.

    More about this item


    Bertrand competition; cross-subsidization; buying patterns; one-stop and multi-stop shopping;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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