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Dynamic Retail Price and Investment Competition

  • Kyle Bagwell

We develop a simple model of retail competition in which retailers select prices and investments in cost reduction. Unable to observe firms' current prices prior to costly search, consumers monitor firms' historic pricing behavior. An equilibrium is constructed in which several identical firms enter and then engage in a phase of vigorous price competition, corresponding to a battle for low-price reputations. This phase is concluded with a "shakeout," as a low-price, low-cost firm comes to dominate the market while other firms lose market share. A central feature of the equilibrium is that low prices are complementary to large investments in cost reduction. Even though the dominant firm's price rises through time, and initially may be below marginal cost, we argue that an interpretation of predatory pricing may be appropriate, since the dominant firm is also the most-efficient (lowest-cost) firm in the market.

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File URL: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/papers/1115.pdf
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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1115.

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Date of creation: Oct 1993
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1115
Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, Northwestern University, 580 Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2014
Phone: 847/491-3527
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Web page: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/
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  1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-94, July.
  2. Stone, Kenneth E., 1991. "Competing with the Mass Merchandisers," Staff General Research Papers 11230, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  4. Bagwell, Kyle, 1987. "Introductory Price as a Signal of Cost in a Model of Repeat Business," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 365-84, July.
  5. Bagwell, Kyle, 1992. "A Model of Competitive Limit Pricing," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(4), pages 585-606, Winter.
  6. Kyle Bagwell & Garey Ramey, 1992. "The Diamond Paradox: A Dynamic Resolution," Discussion Papers 1013, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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