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A Dynamic Oligopoly with Collusion and Price Wars

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  • Chaim Fershtman
  • Ariel Pakes

Abstract

Most of the theoretical work on collusion and price wars assumes identical firms and an unchanging environment, assumptions which are at odds with what we know about most industries. Further that literature focuses on the impact of collusion on prices. Whether an industry can support collusion also effects investment incentives and hence the variety, cost, and quality of the products marketed. We provide a collusive framework with heterogeneity among firms, investment, entry, and exit. It is a symmetric information model in which it is hard to sustain collusion when either one of the firms does not keep up with the advances of its competitors, or a low quality' entrant enters. In either case there will be an active firm that is quite likely to exit after it deviates, but if one of the competitors is near an exit state the other incumbent(s) has an incentive to price predatorily (that is to deviate themselves). We use numerical analysis to compare an institutional structure that allows for collusion to one which does not (perhaps because of an active antitrust authority). Price paths clearly differ in the two environments; in particular only the collusive industry generates price wars. The collusive industry offers both more and higher quality products to consumers, albeit often at a higher price. The positive effect of collusion on the variety and quality of products marketed more than compensates consumers for the negative effect of collusive prices, so that consumer surplus is larger in the collusive environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6936.

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Date of creation: Feb 1999
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6936

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Cited by:
  1. Asker, John, 2010. "Leniency and post-cartel market conduct: Preliminary evidence from parcel tanker shipping," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 407-414, July.
  2. Kazuko Kano, 2012. "Menu Costs and Dynamic Duopoly," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd12-263, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. Compte, Olivier & Jenny, Frederic & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "Capacity constraints, mergers and collusion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
  4. David S. Evans & Michael Salinger, 2004. "An Empirical Analysis of Bundling and Tying: Over-the-Counter Pain Relief and Cold Medicines," CESifo Working Paper Series 1297, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Ciliberto, Federico & Williams, Jonathan, 2010. "Does Multimarket Contact Facilitate Tacit Collusion? Inference on Conjectural Parameters in the Airline Industry," MPRA Paper 24888, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Hongbin Cai & Uday Rajan, 2005. "Incentive Compatible Collusion and Investment," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 6(1), pages 37-52, May.
  7. Luis Cabral, 2014. "We're Number 1: Price Wars for Market Share Leadership," Working Papers 14-01, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  8. repec:dgr:umamet:2010004 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Bettina Becker, 2013. "The Determinants of R&D Investment: A Survey of the Empirical Research," Discussion Paper Series 2013_09, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Sep 2013.
  10. Christian Bayer, 2004. "The Other Side of Limited Liability: Predatory Behavior and Investment Timing," Industrial Organization 0407001, EconWPA.
  11. David S. Evans & Michael Salinger, 2005. "Curing Sinus Headaches and Tying Law: An Empirical Analysis of Bundling Decongestants and Pain Relievers," CESifo Working Paper Series 1519, CESifo Group Munich.

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