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Cost Economies And Market Power: The Case Of The U.S. Meat Packing Industry

  • Catherine J. Morrison Paul

Increasing size of establishments and resulting concentration in U.S. industries may stem from various types of cost economies. In particular, scale economies arising from technological factors embodied in plant and equipment may be a driving force for such market structure changes. In this case, typical market power measures like Lerner indices can be misleading: if scale (cost) economies prevail, cost efficiencies rather than market deficiencies may actually underlie the observed patterns. In this study, I provide measures of scale economies and market power for the U.S. meat packing industry, whose increased consolidation and concentration have raised great concern in policy circles. The results suggest that this trend has been motivated by cost economies, but that little excess profitability exists, and on the margin the potential for taking further advantage of such economies has become minimal. © 2001 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/00346530152480171
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 83 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 531-540

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:83:y:2001:i:3:p:531-540
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  1. Berndt, Ernst R & Morrison, Catherine J, 1981. "Capacity Utilization Measures: Underlying Economic Theory and an Alternative Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 48-52, May.
  2. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  3. Richard J. Gilbert., 1988. "The Role of Potential Competition in Industrial Organization," Economics Working Papers 8889, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 921-47, October.
  5. Azzam, Azzeddine M. & Schroeter, John R., 1995. "The Tradeoff Between Oligopsony Power and Cost Efficiency in Horizontal Consolidation: An Example from Beef Packing," Staff General Research Papers 5062, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. Azzam, Azzeddine M. & Schroeter, John R., 1997. "Concentration in Beef Packing: Do Gains Outweigh Losses?," Staff General Research Papers 5093, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Catherine J. Morrison & Donald Siegel, 1997. "External Capital Factors And Increasing Returns In U.S. Manufacturing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 647-654, November.
  8. Morrison, Catherine J, 1988. "Quasi-Fixed Inputs in U.S. and Japanese Manufacturing: A Generalized Leontief Restricted Cost Function Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 275-87, May.
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