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A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms


  • Rotemberg, Julio J
  • Saloner, Garth


This paper studies implicitly colluding oligopolists facing fluctuatingdemand. The credible threat of future punishments provides the discipline that facilitates collusion. However, the authors find that the temptation to unilaterally deviate from the collusive outcome is often greater when demand is high. To moderate this temptation, the optimizing oligopoly reduces its profitability at such times, resultingin lower prices. The behavior of the railroads in the 1880s, the automobile industry in the 1950s, the cyclical behavior of cement prices, and of price-cost margins are consistent with this theory. Thereduction of price by the oligopolistic sectors may have macro consequences. Copyright 1986 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:76:y:1986:i:3:p:390-407

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