Does Cost Uncertainty in the Bertrand Model Soften Competition?
AbstractAlthough naive intuition may indicate the opposite, the existing literature suggests that uncertainty about costs in the homogeneous-good Bertrand model intensifies competition: it lowers price and raises total surplus (but also makes profits go up). Those results, however, are derived under two assumptions that, if relaxed, conceivably could reverse the results. The present paper first shows that the results hold also if drastic innovations are possible. Next, the paper assumes asymmetric cost distributions, a possibility that is empirically highly plausible but which has been neglected in the previous literature. Using numerical methods it is shown that, under this assumption, uncertainty lowers price and raises total surplus even more than with identical distributions. However, if the asymmetry is large enough, industry profits are lower under uncertainty; this is in contrast to the known results and reinforces the notion that uncertainty intensifies competition rather than softens it.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8817.
Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Other versions of this item:
- Johan N.M. Lagerlöf, 2013. "Does Cost Uncertainty in the Bertrand Model Soften Competition?," Discussion Papers 14-08, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
- D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure and Pricing - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
- D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure and Pricing - - - Auctions
- L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-03-28 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2012-03-28 (Business Economics)
- NEP-COM-2012-03-28 (Industrial Competition)
- NEP-CTA-2012-03-28 (Contract Theory & Applications)
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