Competition between Intermediated and Direct Trade and the Timing of
JEL Classification C78, D49, O12
Department of Economics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.
AbstractThis paper analyses competition between direct and
intermediated trade. We show that a middleman's supply and demand depend on both
his bid and ask prices if sellers and buyers have the alternative of trading
directly. Multiplicity also prevails. Direct trade does not constrain the market
power of a middleman unless it is frictionless. Our results suggest that the
timing of disintermediation is likely to be sub-optimal and have implications,
more generally, for the analysis many functional goods markets where there are
parallel or alternative trade channels for the same good.
AcknowledgementsThis paper is drawn on material from my D.Phil. thesis
at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Jim Mirrlees. I am grateful
to him and to Meg Meyer, Patrick Waldron, Paul Klemperer, anonymous referees and
participants at various seminars for helpful comments and suggestions. All
errors are mine.