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Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices

  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Chad Syverson

This paper looks at the reasons for and results of vertical integration, with specific regard to its possible effects on market power as proposed in the theoretical literature on foreclosure. It uses a rich data set on producers in the cement and ready-mixed concrete industries over a 34- year period to perform a detailed case study. There is little evidence that foreclosure effects are quantitatively important in these industries. Instead, prices fall, quantities rise, and entry rates remain unchanged when markets become more integrated. We suggest an alternative mechanism that is consistent with these patterns and provide additional evidence in support of it: namely, that higher productivity producers are more likely to vertically integrate, and as has been documented elsewhere, are also larger, more likely to grow and survive, and charge lower prices. We explore possible sources of vertically integrated producers’ productivity advantage and find that the advantage is tied to firm size, possibly in part through improved logistics coordination, but not to several other possible explanations.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 06-21.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:06-21
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  1. Grimm, Curtis M & Winston, Clifford & Evans, Carol A, 1992. "Foreclosure of Railroad Markets: A Test of Chicago Leverage Theory," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 295-310, October.
  2. Justine S. Hastings, 2004. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 317-328, March.
  3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "The Growth And Failure Of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," Papers 1-87-5, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  5. Tasneem Chipty, 2001. "Vertical Integration, Market Foreclosure, and Consumer Welfare in the Cable Television Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 428-453, June.
  6. John Shea, 1996. "Instrument Relevance in Multivariate Linear Models: A Simple Measure," NBER Technical Working Papers 0193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Eslava, Marcela & Haltiwanger, John & Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2004. "The effects of structural reforms on productivity and profitability enhancing reallocation: evidence from Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 333-371, December.
  8. Riordan, Michael H, 1998. "Anticompetitive Vertical Integration by a Dominant Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1232-48, December.
  9. Allen, Bruce T, 1971. "Vertical Integration and Market Foreclosure: The Case of Cement and Concrete," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 251-74, April.
  10. Rey, Patrick & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "A Primer on Foreclosure," IDEI Working Papers 203, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Nov 2005.
  11. Chad Syverson, 2006. "Prices, Spatial Competition, and Heterogenous Producers: An Empirical Test," NBER Working Papers 12231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rosengren, Eric S & Meehan, James W, Jr, 1994. "Empirical Evidence on Vertical Foreclosure," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(2), pages 303-17, April.
  13. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," NBER Working Papers 10501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Justine S. Hastings & Richard J. Gilbert, 2005. "MARKET POWER, VERTICAL INTEGRATION AND THE WHOLESALE PRICE OF GASOLINE -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 469-492, December.
  15. Ordover, Janusz A & Saloner, Garth & Salop, Steven C, 1990. "Equilibrium Vertical Foreclosure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 127-42, March.
  16. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
  17. Volker Nocke & Lucy White, 2003. "Do Vertical Mergers Facilitate Upstream Collusion?," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  18. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  19. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," Working Papers 05-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  20. Hart, O. & Tirole, J., 1990. "Vertical Integration And Market Foreclosure," Working papers 548, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  21. Richard Gilbert & Justine Hastings, 2002. "Vertical Integration in Gasoline Supply: An Empirical Test of Raising Rivals' Costs," Industrial Organization 0201001, EconWPA.
  22. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Johnson, Ronald N & Parkman, Allen M, 1987. "Spatial Competition and Vertical Integration; Cement and Concrete Revisited: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 750-53, September.
  24. Daniel P. O'Brien & Greg Shaffer, 1992. "Vertical Control with Bilateral Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(3), pages 299-308, Autumn.
  25. Williamson, Oliver E, 1971. "The Vertical Integration of Production: Market Failure Considerations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 112-23, May.
  26. McBride, Mark E, 1983. "Spatial Competition and Vertical Integration: Cement and Concrete Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1011-22, December.
  27. John Asker, 2004. "Diagnosing Foreclosure Due to Exclusive Dealing," Working Papers 04-36, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  28. Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2006. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," Working Papers 06-21, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  29. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
  30. Aw, Bee Yan & Chen, Xiaomin & Roberts, Mark J., 2001. "Firm-level evidence on productivity differentials and turnover in Taiwanese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 51-86, October.
  31. Robert H. McGuckin & Sang V. Nguyen, 1995. "On Productivity and Plant Ownership Change: New Evidence from the Longitudinal Research Database," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(2), pages 257-276, Summer.
  32. Bolton, Patrick & Whinston, Michael D, 1993. "Incomplete Contracts, Vertical Integration, and Supply Assurance," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 121-48, January.
  33. Martin, Stephen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Snyder, Christopher M, 2001. "Vertical Foreclosure in Experimental Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 466-96, Autumn.
  34. Vernon, John M & Graham, Daniel A, 1971. "Profitability of Monopolization by Vertical Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 924-25, July-Aug..
  35. Waterman, David & Weiss, Andrew A., 1996. "The effects of vertical integration between cable television systems and pay cable networks," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1-2), pages 357-395.
  36. Salinger, Michael A, 1988. "Vertical Mergers and Market Foreclosure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(2), pages 345-56, May.
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