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The Impact of Antitrust Fines on the Formation of Collusive Cartels

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  • Bartolini David

    () (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

  • Zazzaro Alberto

    () (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

Abstract

The literature on collusive cartels has mainly focused on the impact of antitrust fines on the sustainability of cartels, in infinitely repeated games. This approach, however, does not allow us to study the effect of antitrust fines on the incentives to form cartels in the first place. In this paper, we adopt a coalitional game approach to modeling collusive agreements, showing that antitrust fines may drive firms from partial cartels to a monopolistic cartel. Moreover, by introducing uncertainty on market demand, we show that the socially optimal competition policy can call for a finite or even zero antitrust penalty, even if there are no enforcement costs. We provide a sufficient condition for these results to apply to any coalitional game of cartel formation with symmetric firms. Then, we discuss the extension to asymmetric firms and dynamic collusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartolini David & Zazzaro Alberto, 2011. "The Impact of Antitrust Fines on the Formation of Collusive Cartels," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-30, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:58
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marco A. Marini, 2007. "An Overview of Coalitions and Networks Formation Models for Economic Applications," Working Papers 0707, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2007.
    2. Ray, Debraj, 2007. "A Game-Theoretic Perspective on Coalition Formation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199207954.
    3. James W. Friedman, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-12.
    4. Souam, Said, 2001. "Optimal antitrust policy under different regimes of fines," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-26, January.
    5. David Bartolini & Alberto Zazzaro, 2009. "The Anticompetitive Effects of the Antitrust Policy," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 18, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    6. Besanko, David & Spulber, Daniel F, 1989. "Antitrust Enforcement under Asymmetric Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 408-425, June.
    7. Philippe Cyrenne, 1999. "On Antitrust Enforcement and the Deterrence of Collusive Behaviour," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 14(3), pages 257-272, May.
    8. Marc Escrihuela-Villar, 2008. "On endogenous cartel size under tacit collusion," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 32(3), pages 325-338, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raúl Bajo-Buenestado & Dodge Cahan, 2015. "Unification of Oligopolistic Markets for a Homogeneous Good in the Presence of an Antitrust Commission," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 239-256, September.
    2. Tim Reuter, 2017. "Endogenous Cartel Organization and Antitrust Fine Discrimination," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 51(3), pages 291-313, November.

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