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Collusion Over the Business Cycle

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  • Kyle Bagwell
  • Robert Staiger

Abstract

We present a theory of collusive pricing for markets in which demand alternates stochastically between fast-growth (boom) and slow-growth (recession) phases. We show that (1) the most-collusive prices are weakly procyclical (countercyclical) when demand growth rates are positively (negatively) correlated through time, and (2) the amplitude of the collusive pricing cycle is larger when the expected duration of boom phases decreases and when the expected duration of recession phases increases. We also offer a generalization of Rotemberg and Saloner's (1986) model, interpreting their findings in terms of transitory demand shocks that occur within broader business cycle phases.

Suggested Citation

  • Kyle Bagwell & Robert Staiger, 1997. "Collusion Over the Business Cycle," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 82-106, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:28:y:1997:i:spring:p:82-106
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Business Cycles and the Relationship Between Concentration and Price-Cost Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
    2. Miron, Jeffrey A & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1988. "Seasonality, Cost Shocks, and the Production Smoothing Models of Inventories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 877-908, July.
    3. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    4. Severin Boreinstein & Andrea Shepard, 1996. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 429-451, Autumn.
    5. Robert W. Staiger & Frank A. Wolak, 1992. "Collusive Pricing with Capacity Constraints in the Presence of Demand Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 203-220, Summer.
    6. Chevalier, Judith A & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 703-725, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Michihiro Kandori, 1991. "Correlated Demand Shocks and Price Wars During Booms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 171-180.
    9. 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 357-384, March.
    10. Glenn Ellison, 1994. "Theories of Cartel Stability and the Joint Executive Committee," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 37-57, Spring.
    11. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-855, December.
    12. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1992. "Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1153-1207, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance

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