Essays on vertical relationships, bargaining power, and competition policy

Abstract : In many economic environments, producers need to deal with intermediaries to supply their products on markets. Examples include grocery markets in which food manufacturers sell their products to retailers who have direct access to final consumers; pharmaceutical industries where manufacturers distribute their drugs on markets through drugstores; multichannel television industries where cable channels sell their programs to multichannel video program distributors who then charge fees to consumers; private healthcare sectors in which medical providers (e.g., hospitals) deal with insurers to have access to sick patients. One particular feature of such industries is that they are often characterized by a bilateral oligopolistic structure with a small number of firms operating on both sides of the market, resulting in complex vertical relationships. Contracting externalities are indeed intrinsic to such environments because the value generated by a transaction and shared between a manufacturer and a retailer generally depends on the contracting decisions of other firms operating on the market. A number of practices, commonly referred to as vertical restraints, may also arise such as exclusive dealing, bundling and tying, resale price maintenance, or quantity discounts. Furthermore, trading terms are mostly determined through a bargaining process between upstream and downstream firms rather than being fixed by one-side of the market. My research consists in analyzing how vertical relationships between firms in such complex settings impact consumer surplus and total welfare. To this end, I rely on both theoretical models and empirical methods to derive predictions of the effects of contractual arrangements within the supply chain. In the first chapter of this dissertation I design a structural framework to analyze manufacturer-retailer relationships in bilateral oligopolies with differentiated products. Our approach contrasts with most prior empirical models of bargaining and allows to identify the division of surplus between firms without data on wholesale contracts and marginal costs. The second chapter investigates the economic effects of alliances formed by retailers to negotiate common prices and purchase products from manufacturers. I use household- level scanner data on bottled water purchases and estimate a structural model of demand and supply. I perform simulations to study the economic effects of three buyer alliances that have been formed by competing retailers in the French food retail sector. Results show that the bargaining power of retailers is weakened, total industry profit decreases, and final consumers face higher prices. The third chapter examines the case of full-line forcing as a foreclosure device in vertically related markets. We consider a setting in which a multi-product manufacturer offers a leading brand and a secondary brand for which it competes with a more efficient single-product firm. We show that full-line forcing is an efficient bargaining strategy as it allows the multi-product manufacturer to affect threat points and impose its brand portfolio on the retailer’s shelves therefore excluding the rival supplier. This strategy arises in equilibrium under three conditions (i) the leading brand of the multi- product firm is strong enough, (ii) the inefficiency on the secondary brand is not too severe, and (iii) the rival supplier is powerful enough in its bargaining with the retailer. Our results suggest that final consumers and total welfare may be harmed whereas, in some cases, the retailer benefits from such a foreclosure strategy.
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Hugo Molina. Essays on vertical relationships, bargaining power, and competition policy. Economics and Finance. Université Paris-Saclay, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLX020⟩. ⟨tel-01755505⟩

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