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Efficiency in an Economy with Fixed Costs

Andrea Dall'Olio and Rajiv Vohra ()

Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2001, vol. 3, issue 2, 185-201

Abstract: It is by now well known that in an economy with increasing returns, first-best efficiency may be impossible to attain through an equilibrium concept based on market prices, even if firms are regulated to follow marginal cost pricing. We examine the efficiency issue in a special but important class of economies in which the only source of nonconvexities is the presence of fixed costs. Even in this context, it is possible that none of the equilibria based on marginal cost pricing are efficient (unless additional, strong assumptions are made). We argue that available results on the existence of an efficient two-part tariff equilibrium rely on very strong assumptions, and we provide a positive result using a weak surplus condition. Our approach can also be used to establish the existence of an efficient marginal cost pricing equilibrium with endogenously chosen lump-sum taxes if the initial endowment is efficient in the economy without the production technology. Copyright 2001 by Blackwell Publishing Inc.

Date: 2001
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