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Antitrust Evaluation of Horizontal Mergers: An Economic Alternative to Market Definition

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Author Info

  • Farrell, Joseph
  • Shapiro, Carl

Abstract

We propose a simple, new test for making an initial determination of whether a proposed merger between rivals is likely to reduce competition and thus lead to higher prices. Under current antitrust policy, the government can establish a presumption that a proposed horizontal merger will harm competition by defining the relevant market and showing that the merger will lead to a substantial increase in concentration in that market. However, this approach can perform poorly in markets for differentiated products, where market boundaries are unclear and the proximity of the products sold by the merging firms is a key determinant of the merger's effect on competition. Our test looks for upward pricing pressure (UPP) resulting from the merger. We develop a simple diagnostic for UPP based on the price/cost margins of the products sold by the merging firms and the magnitude of direct substitution between the two firm's products. We argue that our approach is well grounded in economics, workable in practice, and superior to existing methods in a substantial class of mergers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series with number qt8z51b1q8.

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Date of creation: 25 Nov 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt8z51b1q8

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Related research

Keywords: antitrust; merger policy; unilateral effects; oligopoly; market definition;

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References

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  1. Aaron S. Edlin & Joseph Farrell, 2004. "The American Airlines Case: A Chance to Clarify Predation Policy," Law and Economics 0401003, EconWPA.
  2. Marie Goppelsroeder & Maarten Pieter Schinkel & Jan Tuinstra, 2006. "Quantifying the Scope for Efficiency Defense in Merger Control: The Werden-Froeb-Index," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-074/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. Bergstrom, Theodore C. & Varian, Hal R., 1985. "Two remarks on Cournot equilibria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 5-8.
  4. Oliver Budzinski & Isabel Ruhmer, 2009. "Merger Simulation in Competition Policy: A Survey," Working Papers 82/09, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Environmental and Business Economics.
  5. Werden, G.J., 1996. "A Robust Test for Consumer Welfare Enhancing Mergers Among Sellers of Differentiated Products," Papers 96-01, U.S. Department of Justice - Antitrust Division.
  6. Federico Echenique., 2000. "Comparative Statics by Adaptive Dynamics and The Correspondence Principle," Economics Working Papers E00-273, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Raymond Deneckere & Carl Davidson, 1985. "Incentives to Form Coalitions with Bertrand Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 473-486, Winter.
  8. Werden, G.J., 1992. "The History of Antitrust Market Delineation," Papers 92-8, U.S. Department of Justice - Antitrust Division.
  9. Froeb, Luke & Tschantz, Steven & Werden, Gregory J., 2005. "Pass-through rates and the price effects of mergers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 703-715, December.
  10. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Michael M. Knetter, 1996. "Goods Prices and Exchange Rates: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Werden, Gregory J, 1996. "A Robust Test for Consumer Welfare Enhancing Mergers among Sellers of Differentiated Products," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 409-13, December.
  12. Schmalensee, Richard., 1987. "Inter-industry studies of structure and performance," Working papers 1874-87., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  13. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 1990. "Horizontal Mergers: An Equilibrium Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 107-26, March.
  14. Volker Nocke & Michael D. Whinston, 2010. "Dynamic Merger Review," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1201 - 1251.
  15. Dennis W. Carlton, 2007. "The Need to Measure the Effect of Merger Policy and How to Do It," EAG Discussions Papers 200715, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Richard Schmalensee, 2012. "“On a Level with Dentists?” Reflections on the Evolution of Industrial Organization," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 157-179, November.
  2. Pereira, Pedro & Ribeiro, Tiago & Vareda, João, 2013. "Delineating markets for bundles with consumer level data: The case of triple-play," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 760-773.
  3. Wayne-Roy Gayle & Robert Marshall & Leslie Marx & Jean-François Richard, 2011. "Coordinated Effects in the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 39-56, August.
  4. Evan Kwerel & Paul LaFontaine & Marius Schwartz, 2012. "Economics at the FCC, 2011–2012: Spectrum Incentive Auctions, Universal Service and Intercarrier Compensation Reform, and Mergers," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 271-302, December.
  5. Oliver Budzinski & Björn A. Kuchinke, 2012. "Deal or No Deal? Consensual Arrangements as an Instrument of European Competition Policy," Review of Economics, Lucius & Lucius, vol. 63(3), pages 265-292.
  6. Herbert Hovenkamp, 2011. "Harm to Competition Under the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 3-18, August.
  7. Lawrence J. White, 2013. "Monopoly and Dominant Firms: Antitrust Economics and Policy Approaches," Working Papers 13-13, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  8. Mathiesen, Lars & Nilsen, Øivind Anti & Sørgard, Lars, 2010. "Merger simulations with observed diversion ratios," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 27/2010, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  9. Budzinski, Oliver, 2012. "Impact evaluation of merger control decisions," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 75, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
  10. Daljord, Øystein & Sørgard, Lars, 2011. "Single-product versus uniform SSNIPs," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 142-146, June.
  11. Niu, Shuai, 2013. "The equivalence of profit-sharing licensing and per-unit royalty licensing," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 10-14.
  12. E. Glen Weyl & Michal Fabinger, 2013. "Pass-Through as an Economic Tool: Principles of Incidence under Imperfect Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(3), pages 528 - 583.
  13. Davis, Peter, 2011. "On the role of empirical industrial organization in competition policy," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 323-328, May.
  14. E. Glen Weyl, 2010. "A Price Theory of Multi-sided Platforms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1642-72, September.
  15. Joseph Farrell & Paul Pautler & Michael Vita, 2009. "Economics at the FTC: Retrospective Merger Analysis with a Focus on Hospitals," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 369-385, December.
  16. Judd Stone & Joshua Wright, 2011. "The Sound of One Hand Clapping: The 2010 Merger Guidelines and the Challenge of Judicial Adoption," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 145-158, August.
  17. Robert Willig, 2011. "Unilateral Competitive Effects of Mergers: Upward Pricing Pressure, Product Quality, and Other Extensions," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 19-38, August.
  18. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "Market Definition and the Merger Guidelines," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 107-125, August.

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