Cheap Trade Credit and Competition in Downstream Markets
61 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2017 Last revised: 25 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 25, 2018
Using a unique dataset with information on 20 million inter-firm transactions, we provide evidence that suppliers offer cheap trade credit to ease competition in downstream markets. We show theoretically that trade credit allows suppliers to transfer surplus to high-bargaining-power customers while preserving sales to other buyers. Suppliers optimally choose a trade credit limit up to which customers can purchase on account. This contractual feature allows suppliers to target infra-marginal units and to leave unaffected customers' marginal costs. Empirically, we find that suppliers grant trade credit to high-bargaining-power customers only when they fear the cannibalization of sales to other low-bargaining-power customers. Exploiting a law that lowered the cost of offering trade credit, we show that higher provision of trade credit to high-bargaining-power customers leads to an expansion of the suppliers' customer base and higher growth of sales to low-bargaining-power customers.
Keywords: Trade credit, competition, input prices, supply chains
JEL Classification: G3, D2, L1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation