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Oligopoly in international trade: Rise, fall and resurgence

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  • Keith Head
  • Barbara J. Spencer

Abstract

Large firms played a central role in the “new trade” models that became a major focus of trade economists in the early 1980s. Subsequent literature for the most part kept imperfect competition but jettisoned oligopoly. Instead, as the heterogeneous firms literature burgeoned in the 2000s, monopolistic competition quickly became established as the workhorse model. The use of oligopoly in trade models has been criticized for reasons that we argue are unpersuasive. Renewed incorporation of oligopolistic firms in international trade is warranted. Quantitative investigations of welfare effects of trade policy should again address the impact of such policies on the allocation of profits across countries. Oligopole dans le commerce international : montée, descente, et résurgence. Les grandes firmes ont joué un rôle central dans les modèles du nouveau commerce international qui sont devenus le centre d’attention des économistes spécialisés dans ce domaine au début des années 90. La littérature spécialisée subséquente a en gros gardé la concurrence imparfaite dans ses modèles mais a jeté par‐dessus bord l’oligopole. Dans la littérature sur les modèles de firmes hétérogènes qui a fleuri dans les années 2000, la concurrence monopolistique s’est vite établie comme cheval de bataille dans ces modèles. Les auteurs suggèrent que l’utilisation de l’oligopole dans les modèles de commerce international a été critiquée pour des raisons qui ne leur semblent pas persuasives. Il leur semble que la réincorporation des firmes oligopolistiques dans les modèles de commerce international est justifiée. Des enquêtes quantitatives sur les effets de bien‐être de la politique commerciale devraient de nouveau s’attaquer au problème de déterminer l’impact de ces politiques sur l’allocation des profits entre pays.

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  • Keith Head & Barbara J. Spencer, 2017. "Oligopoly in international trade: Rise, fall and resurgence," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 50(5), pages 1414-1444, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:canjec:v:50:y:2017:i:5:p:1414-1444
    DOI: 10.1111/caje.12303
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    17. Ian M. Sheldon, 2021. "Reflections on a Career as an Industrial Organization and International Economist," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(2), pages 468-499, June.
    18. Stephen J. Redding & David E. Weinstein, 2017. "Aggregating from Micro to Macro Patterns of Trade," NBER Working Papers 24051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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