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Are Antitrust Fines Friendly to Competition? An Endogenous Coalition Formation Approach to Collusive Cartels

  • David BARTOLINI

    ([n.a.])

  • Alberto ZAZZARO

    ()

    (Universita' Politecnica delle Marche, Dipartimento di Economia)

A well-established result of the theory of antitrust policy is that it might be optimal to tolerate some degree of collusion among firms if the Authority in charge is constrained by limited resources and imperfect information. However, few doubts are cast on the common opinion by which stricter enforcement of antitrust laws definitely makes market structure more competitive and prices lower. In this paper we challenge this presumption of effectiveness and show that the introduction of a positive (expected) antitrust fine may drive firms from partial cartels to a monopolistic cartel. Moreover, introducing uncertainty on market demand, we show that the social optimal competition policy can call for a finite or even zero antitrust penalty even if there are no enforcement costs. We first show our results in a Cournot industry with five symmetric firms and equilibrium binding agreements. Then we extend the analysis to the case of n symmetric firms and a generic rule of coalition formation. Finally, we consider the case of asymmetric firms and show that our results still hold for an industry populated by one Stackelberg leader and two followers.

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Paper provided by Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali in its series Working Papers with number 325.

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Length: 25
Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:anc:wpaper:325
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  1. Joseph E. Harrington, Jr., 2003. "Cartel Pricing Dynamics in the Presence of an Antitrust Authority," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 26, Society for Computational Economics.
  2. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  3. Philippe Cyrenne, 1999. "On Antitrust Enforcement and the Deterrence of Collusive Behaviour," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 257-272, May.
  4. Donsimoni, Marie-Paule, 1985. "Stable heterogeneous cartels," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 451-467, December.
  5. Saïd Souam, 1997. "Optimal Antitrust Policy Under Different Regimes of Fines," Working Papers 97-37, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  6. Besanko, David & Spulber, Daniel F, 1989. "Antitrust Enforcement under Asymmetric Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 408-25, June.
  7. Ramon Fauli-Oller, 2000. "Takeover Waves," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 189-210, 06.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ray, Debraj & Vohra, Rajiv, 1997. "Equilibrium Binding Agreements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 30-78, March.
  10. Marco A. Marini, 2007. "An Overview of Coalitions and Networks Formation Models for Economic Applications," Working Papers 0707, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2007.
  11. Ramon Fauli-Oller, 2000. "Takeover Waves," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(2), pages 189-210, 06.
  12. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
  13. Martin, Stephen, 2006. "Competition policy, collusion, and tacit collusion," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1299-1332, November.
  14. Frezal, Sylvestre, 2006. "On optimal cartel deterrence policies," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1231-1240, November.
  15. Friedman, James W, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(113), pages 1-12, January.
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