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A Test of Profit Maximization

  • Asplund, Björn Marcus

This paper aims at testing the maintained assumption that firms' objective is to maximize the expected net present value (ENPV) of profits. The idea is to examine pricing behaviour of a monopolist facing a dynamic demand where current sales influence future demand. Empirically, I estimate an Euler equation implied by maximization of ENPV of profits on data from the Swedish Tobacco Monopoly's sales of moist snuff (an addictive tobacco product) during the period 1917-1959. It is found that the monopolist's prices are well below those that would maximize ENPV of profits.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6177.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6177
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  1. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2006. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 5798, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. Bajari, Patrick & Benkard, C. Lanier & Levin, Jonathan, 2007. "Estimating Dynamic Models of Imperfect Competition," Research Papers 1852r1, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  4. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," NBER Working Papers 3322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Chaloupka, Frank J. & Warner, Kenneth E., 2000. "The economics of smoking," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 29, pages 1539-1627 Elsevier.
  6. Showalter, Mark H., 1999. "Firm behavior in a market with addiction: the case of cigarettes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 409-427, August.
  7. Ackerberg, Daniel & Lanier Benkard, C. & Berry, Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 2007. "Econometric Tools for Analyzing Market Outcomes," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 63 Elsevier.
  8. Chaloupka, Frank, 1991. "Rational Addictive Behavior and Cigarette Smoking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 722-42, August.
  9. repec:cpi:cpijrn:6.1.2010:i=5496 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Sullivan, Daniel, 1985. "Testing Hypotheses about Firm Behavior in the Cigarette Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 586-98, June.
  11. C. Lanier Benkard, 2004. "A Dynamic Analysis of the Market for Wide-Bodied Commercial Aircraft," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71, pages 581-611, 07.
  12. Sumner, Daniel A, 1981. "Measurement of Monopoly Behavior: An Application to the Cigarette Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 1010-19, October.
  13. Dutta, Prajit K & Radner, Roy, 1999. "Profit Maximization and the Market Selection Hypothesis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 769-98, October.
  14. Silberston, Aubrey, 1970. "Surveys of Applied Economics: Price Behaviour of Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 80(319), pages 511-82, September.
  15. Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "An Economist Sells Bagels: A Case Study in Profit Maximization," NBER Working Papers 12152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Blume, Lawrence & Easley, David, 1992. "Evolution and market behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 9-40, October.
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