Illinois Walls: How barring indirect purchaser suits facilitates collusion
In its landmark ruling in Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court restricted standing to sue for recovery of damages suffered from a breach of federal antitrust law to direct purchasers only. Even though typically antitrust injury is, at least in part, passed on to firms lower in the production chain and ultimately to consumers, Illinois Brick is binding precedent in a majority of states. In this paper, we draw attention to a strategic abuse of the rule as a shield against antitrust damages claims. We show that Illinois Brick facilitates upstream firms in engaging horizontally in a collusive arrangement, allowing them to focus concealed vertical side-payments to discourage civil action on their direct purchasers only. Downstream firms are passed part of the upstream cartel profits through a symmetric rationing of their inputs at low prices. This `Illinois Wall' arrangement sustains collusion in the production chain to the detriment of consumers and reducing total welfare. The more competitive the up- and downstream industries otherwise are, the more scope there is for the arrangement. Illinois Walls are shown to be resilient to entry, as well as to variations in the legal system. Several recent U.S. cartel cases display some of their symptoms, suggesting that the abuse of Illinois Brick is a reality in U.S. industry.
|Date of creation:||2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: + 31 20 525 52 58
Fax: + 31 20 525 52 83
Web page: http://www.fee.uva.nl/cendef/Email:
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Joseph E. Harrington, 2004.
"Post-Cartel Pricing During Litigation,"
Journal of Industrial Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 517-533, December.
- Hugh C. Briggs III & Kathleen D. Huryn & Mark E. McBride, 1996. "Treble Damages and the Incentive to Sue and Settle," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 770-786, Winter.
- Lovell, Michael C., 1982. "Are treble damages double damages?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 263-268.
- McCutcheon, Barbara, 1997. "Do Meetings in Smoke-Filled Rooms Facilitate Collusion?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 330-50, April.
- Snyder, Edward A, 1985. "Efficient Assignment of Rights to Sue for Antitrust Damages," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 469-82, May.
- Xavier Vives, 2001. "Oligopoly Pricing: Old Ideas and New Tools," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026272040x, August.
- Baker, Jonathan B, 1988. "Private Information and the Deterrent Effect of Antitrust Damage Remedies," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 385-408, Fall.
- F. M. Scherer, 1997. "How US Antitrust Can Go Astray: The Brand Name Prescription Drug Litigation," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 239-256.
- Greenhut, M L & Ohta, H, 1979. "Vertical Integration of Successive Oligopolists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 137-41, March.
- Besanko, David & Spulber, Daniel F, 1990. "Are Treble Damages Neutral? Sequential Equilibrium and Private Antitrust Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 870-87, September.
- Schinkel, M.P. & Tuinstra, J. & Rueggeberg, J., 2004.
CeNDEF Working Papers
04-03, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Center for Nonlinear Dynamics in Economics and Finance.
- Joseph J. Spengler, 1950. "Vertical Integration and Antitrust Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 347.
- Salant, Stephen W, 1987. "Treble Damage Awards in Private Lawsuits for Price Fixing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1326-36, December.
- Friedman, James W, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(113), pages 1-12, January.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ams:ndfwpp:05-10. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Cees C.G. Diks)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.