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What Collusion? Unilateral Market Power as a Catalyst for Countercyclical Markups

  • Bart Wilson

This paper presents and tests a simple model of competitive and unilateral market power regimes that yields countercyclical markups. Following a decrease in demand in the short run, capacity-constrained firms may have a strong incentive not to lower their prices to the new competitive price. Demand shocks may introduce market power into a previously competitive market. Experimental posted offer markets support this conjecture with complete information on the market structure. With only private information, there appears to be a hysteresis effect concerning supracompetitive prices, i.e., markets with a history of supracompetitive pricing continue to generate supracompetitive prices following demand shocks. However, competitive markets also remain competitive following demand shocks when firms only have private information on costs and capacities. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 133-145

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:1:y:1998:i:2:p:133-145
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  1. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-84, March.
  2. Davis, Douglas D. & Williams, Arlington W., 1997. "The effects of nonstationarities on performance in call markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 39-54, January.
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  5. Holt, Charles A, 1989. "The Exercise of Market Power in Laboratory Experiments," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages S107-30, October.
  6. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
  7. Brown-Kruse, Jamie, et al, 1994. "Bertrand-Edgeworth Competition in Experimental Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 343-72, March.
  8. Kyle Bagwell & Robert Staiger, 1997. "Collusion Over the Business Cycle," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 82-106, Spring.
  9. Mestelman, Stuart & Welland, Douglas, 1994. "Price Flexibility and Market Performance in Experimental Markets," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 105-29, January.
  10. Jon Ketcham & Vernon L. Smith & Arlington W. Williams, 1984. "A Comparison of Posted-Offer and Double-Auction Pricing Institutions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 595-614.
  11. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
  12. Michihiro Kandori, 1991. "Correlated Demand Shocks and Price Wars During Booms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 171-180.
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