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When Are Cartels Stable Contracts?

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  • Dick, Andrew R
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    Abstract

    Why do some industry cartels survive for decades while others are quickly undermined by price wars and entry? Variation in cartels' longevity can be explained by differences in their costs of self-enforcement and service value to members. Analyzing legal cartel contracts formed under the Webb-Pomerene Export Trade Act, I find that longer-lived cartels tended to export to small buyers, to have wide industry coverage, to operate in periods of stable prices and growing demand and to sell under side agreements with foreign competitors. Contracts in which the cartel centralized its control through a common sales agency tended to be more stable. However, cartels usually grew less stable with age and when there was a recent and long history of cartelization in the industry. Finally, cartels whose primary rationale was to fix price tended to be particularly unstable because these contracts invited fringe competition and entry. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 39 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 1 (April)
    Pages: 241-83

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:39:y:1996:i:1:p:241-83

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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    Cited by:
    1. Yuliya Bolotova & John M. Connor & Douglas J. Miller, 2007. "Factors influencing the magnitude of cartel overcharges: An empirical analysis of food-industry cartels," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(1), pages 17-33.
    2. David Genesove & Wallace P. Mullin, 2001. "Rules, Communication, and Collusion: Narrative Evidence from the Sugar Institute Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 379-398, June.
    3. Filson, Darren, et al, 2001. "Market Power and Cartel Formation: Theory and an Empirical Test," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 465-80, October.
    4. Aitor Ciarreta, 2012. "Cartels and regulation: effects on prices and real sales in sweden (1976–1990)," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 127-146, August.
    5. Ghosal, Vivek, 2007. "Regime Shift in Antitrust," MPRA Paper 5460, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Evenett, Simon J. & Levenstein, Margaret C. & Suslow, Valerie Y., 2001. "International cartel enforcement : lessons from the 1990s," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2680, The World Bank.
    7. Eckert, Andrew, 2004. "An alternating-move price-setting duopoly model with stochastic costs," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 997-1015, September.
    8. Iwan Bos & Erik Pot, 2012. "On the possibility of welfare-enhancing hard core cartels," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 199-216, November.
    9. Brenner, Steffen, 2009. "An empirical study of the European corporate leniency program," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 639-645, November.
    10. Catherine Roux & Christian Thöni, 2013. "Collusion Among Many Firms: The Disciplinary Power of Targeted Punishment," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 13.02, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    11. Symeonidis, George, 1999. "In Which Industries Is Collusion More Likely?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2301, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Ghosal Vivek, 2011. "The Law and Economics of Enhancing Cartel Enforcement: Using Information From Non-Cartel Investigations to Prosecute Cartels," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 501-538, December.
    13. Normann, Hans-Theo & Tan, Elaine S., 2013. "Effects of different cartel policies: Evidence from the German power-cable industry," DICE Discussion Papers 108, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    14. Ghosal, Vivek, 2006. "Discovering Cartels: Dynamic Interrelationships between Civil and Criminal Antitrust Investigations," MPRA Paper 5499, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Bolotova, Yuliya V., 2009. "Cartel overcharges: An empirical analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 321-341, May.
    16. Jonathan B. Baker, 2003. "The Case for Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 27-50, Fall.
    17. Zhou, J., 2012. "Endogenous Lysine Strategy Profile and Cartel Duration: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Discussion Paper 2012-009, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    18. Ghosal, Vivek & Gallo, Joseph, 2001. "The cyclical behavior of the Department of Justice's antitrust enforcement activity," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 27-54, January.
    19. John Connor, 2001. "“Our Customers Are Our Enemies”: The Lysine Cartel of 1992–1995," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 5-21, February.

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