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Rent sharing to control noncartel supply in the German cement market

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Listed:
  • Joseph E. Harrington
  • Kai Hüschelrath
  • Ulrich Laitenberger

Abstract

A challenge for many cartels is avoiding a destabilizing increase in noncartel supply in response to having raised price. In the case of the German cement cartel that operated over 1991–2002, the primary source of noncartel supply was imports from Eastern European cement manufacturers. Testimonies in a private enforcement case have claimed that the cartel sought to control imports by sharing rents with intermediaries in order to discourage them from sourcing foreign supply. Specifically, cartel members would allow an intermediary to issue the invoice for a transaction and charge a fee even though the output went directly from the cartel member's plant to the customer. We investigate this claim by first developing a theory of collusive pricing that takes account of the option of bribing intermediaries. The theory predicts that the cement cartel members are more likely to share rents with an intermediary when the nearest Eastern European plant is closer and there is more Eastern European capacity outside of the control of the cartel. Estimating a logit model that predicts when a cartel member sells through an intermediary, the empirical analysis supports both predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph E. Harrington & Kai Hüschelrath & Ulrich Laitenberger, 2018. "Rent sharing to control noncartel supply in the German cement market," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(1), pages 149-166, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:27:y:2018:i:1:p:149-166
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jems.12234
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kai Hüschelrath & Tobias Veith, 2016. "Cartelization, Cartel Breakdown, and Price Behavior: Evidence from the German Cement Industry," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 81-100, March.
    2. Marhsall, Robert C. & Marx, Leslie M., 2014. "The Economics of Collusion: Cartels and Bidding Rings," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262525941, January.
    3. Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2007. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 250-301.
    4. Iwan Bos & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr, 2010. "Endogenous cartel formation with heterogeneous firms," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(1), pages 92-117.
    5. Nikolaus Fink, 2016. "Formation and Adaptation of the Sugar Cartel in Austria–Hungary," WIFO Working Papers 508, WIFO.
    6. Feinberg, Robert M., 1989. "Imports as a threat to cartel stability," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 281-288, June.
    7. Hans W. Friederiszick & Lars-Hendrik Röller, 2010. "Quantification of harm in damages actions for antitrust infringements: Insights from German cartel cases," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-10-001, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hunold, Matthias & Hüschelrath, Kai & Laitenberger, Ulrich & Muthers, Johannes, 2017. "Competition, collusion and spatial sales patterns: Theory and evidence," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-035, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law

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