Millers, Commission Agents and Collusion in Grain Auction Markets: Evidence From Basmati Auctions in North India
This paper undertakes structural estimation of asymmetric auction models in a market for basmati, and detects the presence of a cartel consisting of a large (in market share) local miller and commission agents purchasing for large distant millers. The contracts between the distant millers and their commission agents help to explain the specific form that collusion takes. Simulations indicate that (i) the cartel gains considerably by colluding, over the competitive outcome; (ii) however, sellers (farmers) do not lose significantly under collusion when the commission agents bid; (iii) a knowledgeable auctioneer would choose much higher starting prices for auctions when commission agents bid, compared with the observed starting prices. The paper also shows that efficient collusion, the form of collusion commonly assumed in the literature, does not explain the data well. [Working Paper No. 129]
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