An Equilibrium Theory of Rationing
Setting a price that results in rationing may be optimal for a seller whose customers must make a specific investment to be able to use its product. Rationing results in ex-post inefficiency, but the resulting distribution of ex-post surplus can compensate consumers for their transaction-specific investments at a lower cost to the seller's profits than would market-clearing prices. Similarly, it may be optimal for a purchaser to procure some of its requirements from a high-cost "second source" rather than purchase only from the lowest-cost supplier.
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"Is the Price System or Rationing More Effective in Getting a Commodity to Those Who Need It Most?,"
140, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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