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Buyer Power and the “Waterbed Effect”

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We present a simple model where the growth of one downstream firm generates lower wholesale prices for this firm but higher wholesale prices for its competitors (the “waterbed effect”). We derive conditions for when, even though firms compete in strategic complements, this harms consumers. This is more likely if larger firms already obtain substantial discounts compared to their smaller competitors. Furthermore, the identified “waterbed effect” holds irrespective of whether a firm grows by acquisition or “organically” by becoming more efficient.

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  • Roman Inderst & Tommaso M. Valletti, 2008. "Buyer Power and the “Waterbed Effect”," CEIS Research Paper 107, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 10 Jul 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:107
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    1. Chrysovalantou Milliou & Emmanuel Petrakis & Nikos Vettas, 2009. "(In)efficient Trading Forms in Competing Vertical Chains," Working Papers 0916, University of Crete, Department of Economics.
    2. João VIEIRA-MONTEZ, 2004. "Downstream Concentration and Producer's Capacity Choice," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 04.13, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
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    4. Chen, Zhiqi, 2003. " Dominant Retailers and the Countervailing-Power Hypothesis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(4), pages 612-625, Winter.
    5. Dobson, Paul W & Waterson, Michael, 1997. "Countervailing Power and Consumer Prices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 418-430, March.
    6. Gans, Joshua S. & King, Stephen P., 2002. "Exclusionary contracts and competition for large buyers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(9), pages 1363-1381, November.
    7. Zhiqi Chen, 2004. "Countervailing Power and Product Diversity," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 279, Econometric Society.
    8. Inderst, Roman & Wey, Christian, 2003. " Bargaining, Mergers, and Technology Choice in Bilaterally Oligopolistic Industries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 1-19, Spring.
    9. Athey, Susan & Schmutzler, Armin, 2001. "Investment and Market Dominance," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
    10. Mathewson, Frank & Winter, Ralph A., 1997. "Buyer groups," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 137-164, April.
      • G. Frank Mathewson & Ralph A. Winter, 1995. "Buyer Groups," Working Papers rwinter-96-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
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