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How Market Fragmentation Can Facilitate Collusion

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  • Kühn, Kai-Uwe
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    When regulated markets are liberalized, economists always stress the benefits of fragmenting existing capacities among more firms. This is because oligopoly models typically imply that a larger number of firms generates stronger competition. I show in this paper that this intuition may fail under collusion. When individual firms are capacity constrained relative to total demand, the fragmentation of capacity facilitates collusion and increases the highest sustainable collusive price. This result can explain the finding in Sweeting (2005) that dramatic fragmentation of generation capacity in the English electricity industry led to increasing price cost margins.

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    Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5948.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2006
    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5948
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    1. Val Eugene Lambson, 1987. "Optimal Penal Codes in Price-setting Supergames with Capacity Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 385-397.
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    3. Davidson, Carl & Deneckere, Raymond J, 1990. "Excess Capacity and Collusion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(3), pages 521-541, August.
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    11. Posner, Richard A, 1970. "A Statistical Study of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 365-419, October.
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    13. Arocena, Pablo & Kuhn, Kai-Uwe- & Regibeau, Pierre, 1999. "Regulatory reform in the Spanish electricity industry: a missed opportunity for competition," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 387-399, July.
    14. Asch, Peter & Seneca, Joseph J, 1975. "Characteristics of Collusive Firms," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 223-237, March.
    15. Kühn, Kai-Uwe & Rimler, Michael S, 2006. "The Comparative Statics of Collusion Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 5742, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Richard Schmalensee & Bennett W. Golub, 1984. "Estimating Effective Concentration in Deregulated Wholesale Electricity Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 12-26, Spring.
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