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The Limited Liability Effect in Experimental Duopoly Markets

  • Jörg Oechssler
  • Frank Schuhmacher

Brander and Lewis argue in a seminal paper (AER, 1986) that a firm's debt-equity ratio should have important strategic effects on product market competition. We test their model in a duopoly experiment under both, Bertrand and Cournot competition. We find that leverage has strategic effects, but those effects are much weaker than predicted by theory. Specifically, we find for price competition a general tendency towards collusion, which has the same overall consequences - but deviates from - the subgame perfect equilibrium prediction. With quantity competition subjects choose much less debt than predicted by theory. It appears that subjects recognize the strategic effects of their own debt. However, they do not (want to) acknowledge possible strategic advantages of opponents' debt.

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File URL: http://www.wiwi.uni-bonn.de/bgsepapers/bonedp/bgse36_2001.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Bonn, Germany in its series Bonn Econ Discussion Papers with number bgse36_2001.

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Length: 27
Date of creation: Dec 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bon:bonedp:bgse36_2001
Contact details of provider: Postal: Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24 - 26, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Fax: +49 228 73 6884
Web page: http://www.bgse.uni-bonn.de

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  1. Kovenock, Dan & Phillips, Gordon M, 1997. "Capital Structure and Product Market Behavior: An Examination of Plant Exit and Investment Decisions," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(3), pages 767-803.
  2. Abbink, Klaus & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1995. "RatImage - research Assistance Toolbox for Computer-Aided Human Behavior Experiments," Discussion Paper Serie B 325, University of Bonn, Germany.
  3. James A. Brander & Tracy R. Lewis, 1988. "Bankruptcy Costs and the Theory of Oligopoly," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(2), pages 221-43, May.
  4. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2004. "Strategic delegation in experimental markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 561-574, April.
  5. Showalter, Dean, 1999. "Strategic debt: evidence in manufacturing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 319-333, April.
  6. Showalter, Dean M, 1995. "Oligopoly and Financial Structure: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 647-53, June.
  7. Phillips, Gordon M., 1995. "Increased debt and industry product markets An empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 189-238, February.
  8. Opler, Tim C & Titman, Sheridan, 1994. " Financial Distress and Corporate Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1015-40, July.
  9. Vital Anderhub & Werner Güth & Ulrich Kamecke & Hans-Theo Normann, 2003. "Capacity Choices and Price Competition in Experimental Markets," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 27-52, June.
  10. Chevalier, Judith A, 1995. " Do LBO Supermarkets Charge More? An Empirical Analysis of the Effects of LBOs on Supermarket Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1095-1112, September.
  11. Chevalier, Judith A, 1995. "Capital Structure and Product-Market Competition: Empirical Evidence from the Supermarket Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 415-35, June.
  12. Chevalier, Judith A & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 703-25, September.
  13. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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