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A statistical equilibrium model of competitive firms

  • Alfarano, Simone
  • Milaković, Mishael
  • Irle, Albrecht
  • Kauschke, Jonas

We find that the empirical density of firm profit rates, measured as returns on assets, is markedly non-Gaussian and reasonably well described by an exponential power (or Subbotin) distribution. We start from a statistical equilibrium model that leads to a stationary Subbotin density in the presence of complex interactions among competitive heterogeneous firms. To investigate the dynamics of firm profitability, we construct a diffusion process that has the Subbotin distribution as its stationary probability density. This leads to a phenomenologically inspired interpretation of variations in the shape parameter of the Subbotin distribution, which essentially measures the competitive pressure in and across industries. Our findings have profound implications both for the previous literature on the ‘persistence of profits’ as well as for understanding competition as a dynamic process. Our main formal finding is that firms' idiosyncratic efforts and the tendency for competition to equalize profit rates are two sides of the same coin, and that a ratio of these two effects ultimately determines the dispersion of the equilibrium distribution.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 36 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 136-149

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:36:y:2012:i:1:p:136-149
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jedc

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  10. Giulio Bottazzi & Angelo Secchi, 2003. "Common Properties and Sectoral Specificities in the Dynamics of U.S. Manufacturing Companies," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 23(3_4), pages 217-232, December.
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  17. Vickers, John, 1995. "Concepts of Competition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 1-23, January.
  18. Castaldi, Carolina & Milakovic, Mishael, 2007. "Turnover activity in wealth portfolios," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 537-552, July.
  19. Giorgio Fagiolo & Lucia Alessi & Matteo Barigozzi & Marco Capasso, 2007. "On the distributional properties of household consumption expenditures. The case of Italy," LEM Papers Series 2007/24, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  20. Wagner, Friedrich & Milaković, Mishael & Alfarano, Simone, 2010. "Firm profitability and the network of organizational capabilities," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 389(21), pages 4769-4775.
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  25. Stutzer, Michael, 1996. " A Simple Nonparametric Approach to Derivative Security Valuation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(5), pages 1633-52, December.
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