By Martin Feldstein
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A large proportion of letters (and mail items in general) are sent by businesses, and economic analysis shows that ﬁrms generally manage to shift (at least part of) their costs to customers. Put diﬀerently, cost increases in postal items will, in general, lead to price increases for ﬁnal goods or services, using mail as an input. Under uniform pricing in the postal sector, banks, for instance, have no reason to charge rural customers more for the mailing of their bank statements than they charge their urban customers.
This argument is most obvious when the transaction falls directly on the operator. However, even when the transaction cost is on the demand side, it may be borne in part by the operator (through a ‘tax incidence’ eﬀect). See Ambrosini et al. (2006) for a description of the obligations in the diﬀerent countries according to three dimensions: scope of products, quality requirements and price regulation. This is true at least for mail services. Some ﬁnancial services provided by post banks fall into the second category.
2 Proﬁt-maximizing solution Writing proﬁts as a function of and x yields ϭ N p(x,)x Ϫ F() Ϫ Ncx , ˛ where p(x,) is the inverse demand function. A10), the comparison between the social optimum (x*,*) and the proﬁt-maximizing solution (x,) is not entirely obvious. 7 We can gain some further insight by noting that for any level of x, the derivative of W with respect to , at the proﬁt-maximizing level of is simply ѨW ϭ ѨUS ϩ ѨUA ϩ Ѩ ϭ ѨUS ϩ ѨUA , Ѩ Ѩ Ѩ Ѩ Ѩ Ѩ because Ѩ/Ѩ vanishes by deﬁnition when proﬁt is maximized.
American economic policy in the 1980s by Martin Feldstein