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Predatory pricing is a deliberate strategy, usually by a dominant firm, of driving competitors out of the market by setting very low prices or selling below the firm’s incremental costs of producing the output (often equated for practical purposes with average variable costs). Once the predator has successfully driven out existing competitors and deterred entry of new firms, it can raise prices and earn higher profits.

The economic literature on the rationality and effectiveness of predatory pricing is in a state of flux. Many economists have questioned the rationality of predatory pricing on grounds that: it can be at least as costly to the predator as to the victim; targets of predation are not easily driven out, assuming relatively efficient capital markets; and entry or re-entry of firms in the absence of barriers reduces the predator’s chances of recouping losses incurred during the period of predation.

However, other economists have suggested that price predation might be feasible if it is undertaken to "soften" up rivals for future acquisition, or if potential targets of predation or their sources of capital have less information about costs and market demand than the predator.

Source Publication:
Glossary of Industrial Organisation Economics and Competition Law, compiled by R. S. Khemani and D. M. Shapiro, commissioned by the Directorate for Financial, Fiscal and Enterprise Affairs, OECD, 1993.


Statistical Theme: Financial statistics

Created on Thursday, January 3, 2002

Last updated on Sunday, March 17, 2002