Price Matching Guarantees and Consumer Search
This paper examines the effect of price matching guarantees (PMGs) on market outcomes in a sequential search model. PMGs are simultaneously chosen with prices and some consumers (shoppers) know the firms’ decisions before buying, while others (non-shoppers) enter a shop before observing the price and whether or not the firm has a PMG. In such an environment, PMGs increase the value of buying the good and therefore increase consumers’ reservation prices. This increase is so large that even after accounting for the possible execution of PMGs, firms’ profits are larger in an equilibrium where PMGs are offered than in an equilibrium without PMGs. We also consider the incentives of firms to choose PMGs and show that an equilibrium where all firms offer PMGs does not exist because of a free-riding problem.
Reservation price equilibria (RPE) do not accurately assess market power in consumer search markets. In most search markets, consumers do not know important elements of the environment in which they search (such as, for example, firms' cost). We argue that when consumers learn when searching, RPE suffer from theoretical issues, such as non-existence and critical dependence on specific out-of-equilibrium beliefs. We characterize equilibria where consumers rationally choose search strategies that are not characterized by a reservation price. Non-RPE always exist and do not depend on specific out-of-equilibrium beliefs. Non-RPE have active consumer search and are consistent with recent empirical findings.
The paper examines the structure, governance, and balance sheets of state-controlled banks in Russia, which accounted for over 55 percent of the total assets in the country's banking system in early 2012. The author offers a credible estimate of the size of the country's state banking sector by including banks that are indirectly owned by public organizations. Contrary to some predictions based on the theoretical literature on economic transition, he explains the relatively high profitability and efficiency of Russian state-controlled banks by pointing to their competitive position in such functions as acquisition and disposal of assets on behalf of the government. Also suggested in the paper is a different way of looking at market concentration in Russia (by consolidating the market shares of core state-controlled banks), which produces a picture of a more concentrated market than officially reported. Lastly, one of the author's interesting conclusions is that China provides a better benchmark than the formerly centrally planned economies of Central and Eastern Europe by which to assess the viability of state ownership of banks in Russia and to evaluate the country's banking sector.
The paper examines the principles for the supervision of financial conglomerates proposed by BCBS in the consultative document published in December 2011. Moreover, the article proposes a number of suggestions worked out by the authors within the HSE research team.