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Collusion over the Business Cycle

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  • Kyle Bagwell
  • Robert W. Staiger

Abstract

We present a theory of collusive pricing in markets subject to business cycle fluctuations. In the business cycle model that we adopt, market demand alternates stochastically between fast-growth (boom) and slow-growth (recession) phases. We provide a complete characterization of the most-collusive prices and show that: (1) the most-collusive prices may be procyclical (countercyclical) when demand growth rates are positively (negatively) correlated through time, and (2) the amplitude of the collusive pricing cycle is larger when the expected duration of boom phases decreases and when the expected duration of recession phases increases. We also offer a generalization of Rotemberg and Saloner's (1986) model, and interpret their findings in terms of transitory demand shocks that occur within broader business cycle phases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5056.

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Date of creation: Mar 1995
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5056

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  1. Judith A. Chevalier & David S. Scharfstein, 1994. "Capital Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 3206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert W. Staiger & Frank A. Wolak, 1992. "Collusive Pricing with Capacity Constraints in the Presence of Demand Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 203-220, Summer.
  4. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," NBER Working Papers 4489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-84, March.
  6. Jeffrey A. Miron & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Seasonality, Cost Shocks and the Production Smoothing Model of Inventories," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 01-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Kandori, Michihiro, 1991. "Correlated Demand Shocks and Price Wars during Booms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 171-80, January.
  8. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-55, December.
  9. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  10. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
  11. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Business Cycles and the Relationship Between Concentration and Price-Cost Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
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