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Edgeworth Price Cycles: Evidence from the Toronto Retail Gasoline Market


  • Noel, Michael


In this article, I exploit a new station-level, twelve-hourly price dataset to examine the strong retail price cycles in the Toronto gasoline market. The cycles are visually similar to the theoretical Edgeworth Cycles of Maskin & Tirole [1988]: strongly asymmetric, tall, rapid, and highly synchronous across stations. I test a series of predictions made by the theory about how firm behaviors would differentially evolve over the path of a cycle. The evidence is consistent with the existence of Edgeworth Cycles and inconsistent with competing hypotheses. One finding is that smaller firms are more likely than larger firms to initiate rounds of price undercutting but the reverse is true for rounds of price increases. While the cycles are an interesting phenomenon for study in their own right, the evidence has important implications for understanding market power in both cycling and non-cycling gasoline markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Noel, Michael, 2004. "Edgeworth Price Cycles: Evidence from the Toronto Retail Gasoline Market," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt64j579g9, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt64j579g9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Slade, Margaret E, 1987. "Interfirm Rivalry in a Repeated Game: An Empirical Test of Tacit Collusion," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 499-516, June.
    2. Slade, Margaret E, 1998. "Strategic Motives for Vertical Separation: Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 84-113, April.
    3. Eckert, Andrew, 2003. "Retail price cycles and the presence of small firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 151-170, February.
    4. Cosslett, Stephen R. & Lee, Lung-Fei, 1985. "Serial correlation in latent discrete variable models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 79-97, January.
    5. Slade, Margaret E, 1989. "Price Wars in Price-Setting Supergames," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(223), pages 295-310, August.
    6. Severin Borenstein & A. Colin Cameron & Richard Gilbert, 1997. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-339.
    7. Porter, Robert H., 1983. "Optimal cartel trigger price strategies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 313-338, April.
    8. Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
    9. Margaret E. Slade, 1992. "Vancouver's Gasoline-Price Wars: An Empirical Exercise in Uncovering Supergame Strategies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(2), pages 257-276.
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    Cited by:

    1. Weibull, J├Ârgen, 2006. "Price competition and convex costs," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 622, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 23 Feb 2006.
    2. L. Bettendorf & S. A. van der Geest & G. H. Kuper, 2009. "Do daily retail gasoline prices adjust asymmetrically?," Journal of Applied Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(4), pages 385-397.

    More about this item


    Edgeworth Cycles; Price Wars; Retail Gasoline;


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