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Bertrand Competition Under Uncertainty

  • Maarten Janssen

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Eric Rasmusen

    (Indiana University)

Consider a Bertrand model in which each firm may be inactive with a known probability, so the number of active firms is uncertain. This activity level can be endogenized in any of several ways-- as whether to incur a fixed cost of activity, as output choice, or as quality choice. Our model has a mixed-strategy equilibrium, in which industry profits are positive and decline with the number of firms, the same features which make the Cournot model attractive. Unlike in a Cournot model with similar incomplete information, Bertrand profits always increase in the probability other firms are inactive. Profits decline more sharply than in the Cournot model, and the pattern is similar to that found empirically by Bresnahan and Reiss (1991).

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 1309.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1309
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  1. Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and ripoffs: a model of monopolistically competitive price dispersion," Special Studies Papers 94, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Spulber, Daniel F, 1995. "Bertrand Competition When Rivals' Costs Are Unknown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-11, March.
  3. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with a stochastic number of bidders," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, October.
  4. 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.
  5. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  6. Janssen, Maarten C. W. & van Reeven, Peran, 1998. "Market Prices and Illegal Practices," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 51-60, March.
  7. Dasgupta, Partha & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Existence of Equilibrium in Discontinuous Economic Games, II: Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 27-41, January.
  8. Gaudet, G. & Salant, S., 1988. "Uniqueness Of Cournot Equilibrium: New Results From Old Methods," Papers 89-10, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  9. Levitan, Richard & Shubik, Martin, 1972. "Price Duopoly and Capacity Constraints," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(1), pages 111-22, February.
  10. Salant, Stephen W & Switzer, Sheldon & Reynolds, Robert J, 1983. "Losses from Horizontal Merger: The Effects of an Exogenous Change in Industry Structure on Cournot-Nash Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 185-99, May.
  11. Warner, Elizabeth J & Barsky, Robert B, 1995. "The Timing and Magnitude of Retail Store Markdowns: Evidence from Weekends and Holidays," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 321-52, May.
  12. Elmar Wolfstetter & Walter Elberfeld, 1997. "A Dynamic Model of Bertrand Competition with Entry," Microeconomics 9701003, EconWPA.
  13. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
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