DP8849 | Dynamic Price Competition with Switching Costs

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We develop a continuous-time dynamic model with switching costs. In a relatively simple Markov Perfect equilibrium, the dominant firm concedes market share by charging higher prices than the smaller firm. In the short-run, switching costs might have two types of anti-competitive effects: first, higher switching costs imply a slower transition to a symmetric market structure and a slower rate of decline for average prices; and second, if firms are sufficiently asymmetric, an increase in switching costs also leads to higher current prices. However, as market structure becomes more symmetric, price competition turns fiercer and in the long-run, switching costs have a pro-competitive effect. From a policy perspective, we conclude that switching costs should only raise concerns in concentrated markets.