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Uncertainty Resolution, Private Information Aggregation and the Cournot Competitive Limit


  • Thomas R. Palfrey


A Cournot model of oligopoly in which otherwise identical firms have private differential information about the common cost of production and a shared (but unknown) demand curve is examined. A Bayesian equilibrium of the corresponding game of incomplete information is solved for explicitly and analysed. In the symmetric equilibrium, different firms produce at different output levels because they have different information. Because the information individual firms have is random, total output and hence market price is also random for any finite number of firms. The main result of the paper relates to the asymptotic properties of the equilibrium, when the number of firms becomes large. Under fairly general conditions on the joint distribution of demand and individual firms' information about demand, the random equilibrium price converges almost surely to a constant in the limit. More importantly, this price equals the perfectly competitive price. In other words, in large markets, even if no firm knows the true market demand curve and firms are not price-takers and do not use price as a signal to improve their information, the competitive price will prevail with certainty. In the limit, aggregate outcomes are as if all firms shared their private information with each other.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas R. Palfrey, 1985. "Uncertainty Resolution, Private Information Aggregation and the Cournot Competitive Limit," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 69-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:52:y:1985:i:1:p:69-83.

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Xavier Vives, 2011. "Strategic Supply Function Competition With Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(6), pages 1919-1966, November.
    2. Xavier Vives, 2014. "On The Possibility Of Informationally Efficient Markets," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(5), pages 1200-1239, October.
    3. Hu, Tai-Wei & Wallace, Neil, 2016. "Information aggregation in a large multi-stage market game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 103-144.
    4. Lode Li, 2002. "Information Sharing in a Supply Chain with Horizontal Competition," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(9), pages 1196-1212, September.
    5. Cramton, Peter C & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1990. "Cartel Enforcement with Uncertainty about Costs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(1), pages 17-47, February.
    6. Xavier Vives, 2017. "Endogenous Public Information and Welfare in Market Games," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 935-963.
    7. Tunca, Tunay I., 2008. "Information precision and asymptotic efficiency of industrial markets," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(9-10), pages 964-996, September.
    8. Pavan, Alessandro & Vives, Xavier, 2015. "Information, Coordination, and Market Frictions: An Introduction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 158(PB), pages 407-426.
    9. Myatt, David P. & Wallace, Chris, 2015. "Cournot competition and the social value of information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 158(PB), pages 466-506.

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