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How Market Fragmentation Can Facilitate Collusion

  • 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
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5948
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    1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521816632 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. Compte, Olivier & Jenny, Frederic & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "Capacity constraints, mergers and collusion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
    4. Fraas, Arthur G & Greer, Douglas F, 1977. "Market Structure and Price Collusion: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 21-44, September.
    5. Kühn, Kai-Uwe & Rimler, Michael S, 2006. "The Comparative Statics of Collusion Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 5742, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. 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.
    7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521016919 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Hay, George A & Kelley, Daniel, 1974. "An Empirical Survey of Price Fixing Conspiracies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 13-38, April.
    9. Green, Richard J, 1996. "Increasing Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 205-16, June.
    10. Valerie Y. Suslow, 2005. "Cartel contract duration: empirical evidence from inter-war international cartels," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(5), pages 705-744, October.
    11. Carl Davidson & Raymond Deneckere, 1984. "Excess Capacity and Collusion," Discussion Papers 675, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    12. Asch, Peter & Seneca, Joseph J, 1975. "Characteristics of Collusive Firms," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 223-37, March.
    13. Brock, William A & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1985. "Price Setting Supergames with Capacity Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 371-82, July.
    14. Lambson, Val Eugene, 1987. "Optimal Penal Codes in Price-Setting Supergames with Capacity Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 385-97, July.
    15. Green, Richard & Newbery, David M G, 1991. "Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 557, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. 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.
    17. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2002. "What Determines Cartel Success?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2002-01, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
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