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Insisting on a non-negative price: Oligopoly, uncertainty, welfare, and multiple equilibria

  • Lagerlof, Johan N.M.

I study Cournot competition under incomplete information about demand while assuming that market price must be non-negative for all demand realizations. Although this assumption is very natural, it has only rarely been made in the earlier literature. Yet it has important economic consequences: (1) multiple (symmetric, pure strategy) equilibria can exist, despite the fact that demand and cost are linear; and (2) expected total surplus can be larger when the firms do not know demand than when they do, a result which has important implications for the social desirability of information sharing. The arguments of the paper are relevant also for price competition and for uncertainty about, e.g., cost or the number of firms, and these issues are discussed. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Bestehen auf einen nichtnegativen Preis: Oligopol, Ungewißheit, Wohlfahrt und multiple Gleichgewichte) In diesem Beitrag wird Cournot-Wettbewerb bei unvollständiger Information über die Nachfrage untersucht und unterstellt, daß der Marktpreis für alle Realisierungen der Nachfrage nichtnegativ ist. Obgleich diese Annahme sehr selbstverständlich ist, ist sie nur selten in der früheren Literatur verwendet worden. Dennoch hat sie wichtige ökonomische Konsequenzen: (1) können multiple Gleichgewichte existieren (symmetrisch, bei reinen Strategien), obwohl Nachfrage und Kosten linear sind; und (2) kann erwarteter Gesamtüberschuß größer sein, wenn die Unternehmen die Nachfrage nicht kennen als im Falle sie ihnen nicht bekannt ist. Dieses Ergebnis hat wichtige Implikationen für die soziale Erwünschtheit der gemeinsamen Nutung von Information ("Information sharing"). Die Argumente des Beitrags sind auch für Preiskonkurrenz und für Ungewißheit beispielsweise hinsichtlich der Kosten oder der Zahl von Unternehmen relevant. Sie werden abschließend besprochen.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 25 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 861-875

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Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:25:y:2007:i:4:p:861-875
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505551

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  1. Raith, Michael, 1996. "A General Model of Information Sharing in Oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 260-288, October.
  2. Gal-Or, Esther, 1986. "Information Transmission-Cournot and Bertrand Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 85-92, January.
  3. Malueg, David A. & Tsutsui, Shunichi O., 1996. "Duopoly information exchange: The case of unknown slope," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 119-136.
  4. Amir, Rabah & Lambson, Val E, 2000. "On the Effects of Entry in Cournot Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(2), pages 235-54, April.
  5. Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Exchange of Cost Information in Oligopoly," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 433-46, July.
  6. Weitzman, Martin L, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 477-91, October.
  7. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 132-148, August.
  8. William Novshek & Hugo Sonnenschein, 1982. "Fulfilled Expectations Cournot Duopoly with Information Acquisition and Release," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 214-218, Spring.
  9. Kai-Uwe Kühn, 2001. "Fighting collusion by regulating communication between firms," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 167-204, 04.
  10. Xavier Vives, 2001. "Oligopoly Pricing: Old Ideas and New Tools," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026272040x, June.
  11. Xavier Vives, 1990. "Trade Association Disclosure Rules, Incentives to Share Information, and Welfare," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 409-430, Autumn.
  12. Jean-Pierre Ponssard, 1979. "The Strategic Role of Information on the Demand Function in an Oligopolistic Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(3), pages 243-250, March.
  13. Malueg, David A. & Tsutsui, Shunichi O., 1998. "Distributional assumptions in the theory of oligopoly information exchange1," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 785-797, November.
  14. Malueg, David A & Tsutsui, Shunichi O, 1998. "Oligopoly Information Exchange When Non-negative Price and Output Constraints May Bind," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 363-71, December.
  15. Gal-Or, Esther, 1985. "Information Sharing in Oligopoly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 329-43, March.
  16. Li, Lode., 1985. "Cournot Oligopoly with Information Sharing," Working Papers 561, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  17. Richard N. Clarke, 1983. "Collusion and the Incentives for Information Sharing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 383-394, Autumn.
  18. Novshek, William., 1984. "On the Existence of Cournot Equilibrium," Working Papers 517, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  19. Basar, Tamer & Ho, Yu-Chi, 1974. "Informational properties of the Nash solutions of two stochastic nonzero-sum games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 370-387, April.
  20. Vives, Xavier, 1984. "Duopoly information equilibrium: Cournot and bertrand," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 71-94, October.
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