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Cartel Code Attributes and Cartel Performance: An Industry-Level Analysis of the National Industrial Recovery Act


  • Jason E. Taylor


This paper uses the cartel-enabling National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933 to gain insight into cartel performance. I employ a monthly panel of 66 industries that passed an NIRA code of fair competition to examine how specific attributes of these cartel codes affected the ability to achieve collusive outcomes. I find that output growth was significantly lower during cartel months, consistent with cartel theory, and that industries with more complex codes were more successful than those with simpler ones. Furthermore, industries with code restrictions on new productive capacity, production quotas, and requirements to file data with a central board were the most successful at reducing output, which suggests that these types of provisions were the most effective in helping firms attain collusive outcomes. Finally, I find that the effectiveness of data-filing provisions was limited to the early months of the NIRA, prior to a wave of cartel breakdown occurring in spring 1934.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason E. Taylor, 2007. "Cartel Code Attributes and Cartel Performance: An Industry-Level Analysis of the National Industrial Recovery Act," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 597-624.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:50:y:2007:p:597-624
    DOI: 10.1086/519808

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    2. Hay, George A & Kelley, Daniel, 1974. "An Empirical Survey of Price Fixing Conspiracies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 13-38, April.
    3. Alexander, Barbara, 1994. "The Impact of the National Industrial Recovery Act on Cartel Formation and Maintenance Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 245-254, May.
    4. Fraas, Arthur G & Greer, Douglas F, 1977. "Market Structure and Price Collusion: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 21-44, September.
    5. Jason Taylor & George Selgin, 1999. "By our bootstraps: Origins and effects of the high-wage doctrine and the minimum wage," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 447-462, December.
    6. 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.
    7. Dick, Andrew R, 1996. "When Are Cartels Stable Contracts?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 241-283, April.
    8. Alexander, Barbara & Libecap, Gary D., 2000. "The Effect of Cost Heterogeneity in the Success and Failure of the New Deal's Agricultural and Industrial Programs," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 370-400, October.
    9. Posner, Richard A, 1970. "A Statistical Study of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 365-419, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Price Fishback, 2017. "How Successful Was the New Deal? The Microeconomic Impact of New Deal Spending and Lending Policies in the 1930s," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1435-1485, December.
    2. Chicu, Mark & Ziebarth, Nicolas L., 2013. "Multi-market contact and competition: evidence from the Depression-era portland cement industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 603-611.
    3. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:44:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10657-017-9564-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bridgman, Benjamin & Qi, Shi & Schmitz, James A., 2015. "Cartels Destroy Productivity: Evidence from the New Deal Sugar Manufacturing Cartel, 1934-74," Staff Report 519, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    5. Chicu, Mark & Vickers, Chris & Ziebarth, Nicolas L., 2013. "Cementing the case for collusion under the National Recovery Administration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 487-507.
    6. Taylor, Jason E. & Neumann, Todd C., 2013. "The effect of institutional regime change within the new deal on industrial output and labor markets," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 582-598.
    7. Price V. Fishback & John Joseph Wallis, 2012. "What Was New About the New Deal?," NBER Working Papers 18271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Taylor, Jason E. & Neumann, Todd C., 2016. "Recovery Spring, Faltering Fall: March to November 1933," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 54-67.
    9. Fink, Nikolaus & Schmidt-Dengler, Philipp & Stahl, Konrad & Zulehner, Christine, 2015. "Registered cartels in Austria: An overview," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-058, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    10. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2011. "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Determinants of Cartel Duration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 455-492.
    11. Hyytinen, Ari & Steen, Frode & Toivanen, Otto, 2012. "Anatomy of Cartel Contracts," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 25/2012, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    12. Adam Smith & Richard Wagner & Bruce Yandle, 2011. "A theory of entangled political economy, with application to TARP and NRA," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 45-66, July.

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