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The Specialness of Zero

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  • Joshua S. Gans

Abstract

A model is provided whereby a monopolist firm chooses to price its product at zero. This outcome is shown to be driven by the assumption of ‘free disposal’ alongside selection markets (where prices impact on a firm’s costs). Free disposal creates a mass point of consumers whose utility from the product is zero. When costs are negative, the paper shows that a zero price equilibrium can emerge. The paper shows that this outcome can be socially optimal and that, while a move from monopoly to competition can result in a negative price equilibrium, this can be welfare reducing. The conclusion is that zero can be a ‘special zone’ with respect to policy analysis such as in antitrust.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua S. Gans, 2019. "The Specialness of Zero," NBER Working Papers 26485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26485
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    More about this item

    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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