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Does Multimarket Contact Facilitate Tacit Collusion? Inference on Conduct Parameters in the Airline Industry

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  • Ciliberto, Federico
  • Williams, Jonathan W

Abstract

We show that multimarket contact facilitates tacit collusion in the US airline industry using two complementary approaches. First, we show that the more extensive is the overlap in the markets that the two firms serve, i) the more firms internalize the effect of their pricing decisions on the profit of their competitors by reducing the discrepancy in their prices, and ii) the greater the rigidity of prices over time. Next, we develop a flexible model of oligopolistic behavior, where conduct parameters are modeled as functions of multimarket contact. We find i) carriers with little multimarket contact do not cooperate in setting fares, while carriers serving many markets simultaneously sustain almost perfect coordination; ii) cross-price elasticities play a crucial role in determining the impact of multimarket contact on collusive behavior and equilibrium fares; iii) marginal changes in multimarket contact matter only at low or moderate levels of contact; iv) assuming that firms behave as Bertrand-Nash competitors leads to biased estimates of marginal costs.

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  • Ciliberto, Federico & Williams, Jonathan W, 2012. "Does Multimarket Contact Facilitate Tacit Collusion? Inference on Conduct Parameters in the Airline Industry," CEPR Discussion Papers 9015, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9015
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    2. Xiao, Junji & Ju, Heng, 2016. "The determinants of dealership structure: Empirical analysis of the Chinese auto market," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 961-981.
    3. Xavier D'hautfoeuille & Isis Durrmeyer & Philippe Février, 2014. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium with Unobserved Price Discrimination," Working Papers 2014-38, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    4. Gayle, Philip G. & Thomas, Tyson, 2016. "Assessing firm behavior in carve-out markets: Evidence on the impact of carve-out policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 178-194.
    5. Shcherbakov, Oleksandr & Wakamori, Naoki, 2015. "A simple way to identify the degree of collusion under proportional reduction," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 497, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    6. Azar, José & Schmalz, Martin & Tecu, Isabel, 2017. "Anti-Competitive Effects of Common Ownership," IESE Research Papers D/1169, IESE Business School.
    7. Beomjoon Shim & Ahmed Khwaja, 2017. "The Collusive Effect of Multimarket Contact on Prices: Evidence from Retail Lumber Markets," 2017 Meeting Papers 593, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    11. Ciliberto, Federico & Cook, Emily & Williams, Jonathan, 2017. "Network Structure and Consolidation in the U.S. Airline Industry, 1990-2015," MPRA Paper 83885, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Keywords

    Airline Industry; Airport Facilities; Collusion; Differentiated Products; Multi-Market Contact; Price Rigidity.; Screening Test;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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