Discussion paper

DP13228 Cheap Trade Credit and Competition in Downstream Markets

Using a unique dataset with information on 20 million inter-firm transactions, we provide evidence that suppliers offer trade credit to high-bargaining-power customers to ease competition in downstream markets in which they have a large number of other clients. Differently from price discounts, trade credit targets infra-marginal units and does not lower the marginal cost of high-bargaining-power customers. As a consequence, the latter do not gain market share and the supplier can preserve profitable sales to low-bargaining-power customers. We show that empirically trade credit is not monotonically increasing in past purchases, as is consistent with our conjecture that it targets infra-marginal units. In addition, the supplier grants trade credit to high-bargaining-power-customers only when it fears the cannibalization of sales to other low-bargaining-power clients. Our results are not driven by differences in suppliers' ability to provide trade credit, customer-specific shocks, or endogenous location decisions.


Giannetti, M, N Serrano-Velarde and E Tarantino (2018), ‘DP13228 Cheap Trade Credit and Competition in Downstream Markets‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13228. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13228