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The Welfare Impact of Collusion under Various Industry Characteristics: A Panel Examination of Efficient Cartel Theory

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  • Taylor Jason E

    () (Central Michigan University)

Abstract

In the past three decades, several case studies have documented specific industries and instances whereby collusion was welfare-enhancing rather than harmful as is usually assumed. Specifically, two distinct efficient cartel hypotheses claim that inter-firm coordination can increase economic efficiency in industries with a large degree of avoidable fixed costs and/or variable output. This paper performs the first systematic empirical test of these hypotheses via an examination of cartel performance under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, a two-year cartel experiment in the United States. While I find a wide variation in welfare changes during cartelization, there is no compelling evidence that differences in fixed costs are the cause. I do, however, find robust empirical support for the hypothesis that industries with highly variable output experience higher welfare gains (or less negative welfare declines) under collusion.

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  • Taylor Jason E, 2010. "The Welfare Impact of Collusion under Various Industry Characteristics: A Panel Examination of Efficient Cartel Theory," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-29, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:10:y:2010:i:1:n:97
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alexander, Barbara J., 1997. "Failed Cooperation in Heterogeneous Industries Under the National Recovery Administration," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 322-344, June.
    2. Alexander, Barbara & Libecap, Gary D., 2000. "The Effect of Cost Heterogeneity in the Success and Failure of the New Deal's Agricultural and Industrial Programs," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 370-400, October.
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    5. David Genesove & Wallace P. Mullin, 2001. "Rules, Communication, and Collusion: Narrative Evidence from the Sugar Institute Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 379-398, June.
    6. Alexander, Barbara, 1994. "The Impact of the National Industrial Recovery Act on Cartel Formation and Maintenance Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 245-254, May.
    7. Fraas, Arthur G & Greer, Douglas F, 1977. "Market Structure and Price Collusion: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 21-44, September.
    8. Saxonhouse, Gary R, 1976. "Estimated Parameters as Dependent Variables," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(1), pages 178-183, March.
    9. Sjostrom, William, 1989. "Collusion in Ocean Shipping: A Test of Monopoly and Empty Core Model s," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1160-1179, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Price Fishback, 2017. "How Successful Was the New Deal? The Microeconomic Impact of New Deal Spending and Lending Policies in the 1930s," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1435-1485, December.
    2. Tuinstra Jan & in ’t Veld Daan L., 2013. "Market-Induced Rationalization and Welfare-Enhancing Cartels," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 189-202, October.
    3. Taylor, Jason E. & Neumann, Todd C., 2016. "Recovery Spring, Faltering Fall: March to November 1933," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 54-67.

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