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Cartel Unity over the Business Cycle


  • Mukesh Eswaran


In this paper cartel behavior in business cycles when some firms are vulnerable to bankruptcy in the downturns is investigated. This vulnerability would restrict the set of collusive equilibria that are feasible in a repeated game and possibly result in a breakdown, in recessions, of all collusive agreements. It is demonstrated, however, that the existence of a low-cost producer in the cartel could prevent this breakdown. By adjusting market shares across the business cycle (and thereby eliminating the possibility of bankruptcy for its inefficient rivals), this ('swing') producer could enlarge the set of self-enforcing collusive equilibria. The results of this paper are seen to be consistent with a wide range of observations on the behavior of cartels over the business cycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Mukesh Eswaran, 1997. "Cartel Unity over the Business Cycle," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 644-672, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:30:y:1997:i:3:p:644-72

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Plesko, George A., 1988. "The Accuracy of Government Forecasts and Budget Projections," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(4), pages 483-501, December.
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    7. Campbell, Bryan & Ghysels, Eric, 1995. "Federal Budget Projections: A Nonparametric Assessment of Bias and Efficiency," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(1), pages 17-31, February.
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    13. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G, 1998. "Graphical Methods for Investigating the Size and Power of Hypothesis Tests," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 66(1), pages 1-26, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lars-Hendrik Röller & Frode Steen, 2006. "On the Workings of a Cartel: Evidence from the Norwegian Cement Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 321-338, March.
    2. repec:oup:jcomle:v:1:y:2005:i:1:p:3-20. is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:pri:cepsud:102ashenfelter is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pierre-Pascal Gendron, 2001. "Corporation Tax Asymmetries and Cartel Unity," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(5), pages 659-674, November.
    5. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2002. "What Determines Cartel Success?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2002-01, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    6. Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2005. "Anatomy of the Rise and Fall of a Price-Fixing Conspiracy: Auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's," Journal of Competition Law and Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 3-20.
    7. Richard Makadok, 2010. "The Interaction Effect of Rivalry Restraint and Competitive Advantage on Profit: Why the Whole Is Less Than the Sum of the Parts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(2), pages 356-372, February.
    8. Productivity Commission, 2005. "Review of Part X of the Trade Practices Act 1974: International Liner Cargo Shipping," Inquiry Reports, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia, number 32.

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