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Interdependent Pricing and Markup Behavior: An Empirical Analysis of GM, Ford and Chrysler

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  • Ernst R. Berndt
  • Ann F. Friedlaender
  • Judy Shaw-Er Wang Chiang
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    Abstract

    Our purpose in this paper is to develop and estimate a model of the US automobile industry that can be used to analyze the secular and cyclical strategic markup behavior and market structure of its three major domestic producers - - GM, Ford and Chrysler. The principal novelty in this paper is not such much in the underlying theory (we build on what Timothy Bresnahan has called the "new empirical industrial organization" literature), but rather in the actual empirical implementation of a multi-equation model sufficiently general to permit the testing of a variety of specific behavioral postulates associated with the interdependent strategic profit-maximizing behavior of GM, Ford and Chrysler. Using firm-specific annual data from 1959-83, we find that at usual levels of statistical significance, we cannot reject Cournot quantity-setting behavior, nor can we reject leader/follower quantity-setting behavior with GM as leader and Ford and Chrysler as followers; the parameter restrictions associated with leader/follower behavior are slightly more binding than those with Cournot, although the difference is not decisive. In terms of the cyclical analysis of market behavior, our most striking result is the great diversity of behavior we find among GM, Ford and Chrysler. Depending on which firm is being analyzed, there is support for the pro-cyclical "conventional wisdom" of markups (GM and Ford), as well as for the counter-cyclical "revisionist" literature (Chrysler). Diversity, rather than constancy and homogeneity, best characterizes firms in this industry.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3396.

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    Date of creation: Jun 1990
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3396

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    1. Diewert, Walter E & Wales, Terence J, 1987. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 43-68, January.
    2. Gallant, A. Ronald & Jorgenson, Dale W., 1979. "Statistical inference for a system of simultaneous, non-linear, implicit equations in the context of instrumental variable estimation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2-3), pages 275-302.
    3. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Market Structure and Cyclical Fluctuations in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 2115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1981. "Departures from marginal-cost pricing in the American automobile industry : Estimates for 1977-1978," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 201-227, November.
    5. Appelbaum, Elie, 1979. "Testing price taking behavior," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 283-294, February.
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    7. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
    8. Lee, Lung-Fei & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Switching Regression Models with Imperfect Sample Separation Information-With an Application on Cartel Stability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 391-418, March.
    9. Catherine J. Morrison, 1990. "Market Power, Economic Profitability and Productivity Growth Measurement: An Integrated Structural Approach," NBER Working Papers 3355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. McFadden, Daniel, 1978. "Cost, Revenue, and Profit Functions," Histoy of Economic Thought Chapters, in: Fuss, Melvyn & McFadden, Daniel (ed.), Production Economics: A Dual Approach to Theory and Applications, volume 1, chapter 1 McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.
    11. Iwata, Gyoichi, 1974. "Measurement of Conjectural Variations in Oligopoly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(5), pages 947-66, September.
    12. Melvyn A. Fuss & Leonard Waverman, 1986. "The Extent and Sources of Cost and Efficiency Differences Between U.S. and Japanese Automobile Producers," NBER Working Papers 1849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Kwoka, John E, Jr, 1984. "Market Power and Market Change in the U.S. Automobile Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(4), pages 509-22, June.
    14. Appelbaum, Elie, 1982. "The estimation of the degree of oligopoly power," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 287-299, August.
    15. 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.
    16. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
    17. Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1989. "Empirical studies of industries with market power," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 17, pages 1011-1057 Elsevier.
    18. Mark Bils, 1989. "Cyclical Pricing of Durable Goods," NBER Working Papers 3050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Guillermo Caruana & Liran Einav, 2006. "Production Targets," NBER Working Papers 11958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pazo, M&z. ausco & Consuelo & Jaumandreu, Jordi, 1999. "An empirical oligopoly model of a regulated market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 25-57, January.
    3. Maura P. Doyle, 1997. "The effects of interest rates and taxes on new car prices," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-38, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Maura P. Doyle & Christopher M. Snyder, 1999. "Information Sharing and Competition in the Motor Vehicle Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1326-1364, December.

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