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Testing Optimal Punishment Mechanisms under Price Regulation: the Case of the Retail Market for Gasoline

  • Robert Gagné

    (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - Université de Montréal)

  • Simon Van Norden

    (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - Université de Montréal)

  • Bruno Versaevel


    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

We analyse the effects of a price floor on price wars (or deep price cuts) in the retail market for gasoline. Bertrand supergame oligopoly models predict that price wars should last longer in the presence of price floors. In 1996, the introduction of a price floor in the Quebec retail market for gasoline serves as a natural experiment with which to test this prediction. We use a Markov Switching Model with two latent states to simultaneously identify the periods of price-collusion/price-war and estimate the parameters characterizing each state. Results support the prediction that price floors reduce the intensity of price wars but increase their expected duration.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00142516.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Working paper du GATE 2006-11. 2006
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00142516
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  1. Robert H. Porter, 1983. "A Study of Cartel Stability: The Joint Executive Committee, 1880-1886," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 301-314, Autumn.
  2. Porter, Robert H, 1985. "On the Incidence and Duration of Price Wars," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 415-26, June.
  3. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  4. Slade, Margaret E, 1987. "Interfirm Rivalry in a Repeated Game: An Empirical Test of Tacit Collusion," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 499-516, June.
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  7. Lee, Lung-Fei & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Switching Regression Models with Imperfect Sample Separation Information-With an Application on Cartel Stability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 391-418, March.
  8. Slade, Margaret E, 1989. "Price Wars in Price-Setting Supergames," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(223), pages 295-310, August.
  9. Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
  10. Luca Lambertini & Dan Sasaki, 2002. "Non-Negative Quantity Constraints and the Duration of Punishment," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 53(1), pages 77-93.
  11. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1986. "Optimal cartel equilibria with imperfect monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 251-269, June.
  12. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," NBER Working Papers 4489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Gordon, S.F. & Filardo, A.J., 1993. "Business Cycle Durations," Papers 9328, Laval - Recherche en Politique Economique.
  14. Hackner, Jonas, 2000. "A Note on Price and Quantity Competition in Differentiated Oligopolies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 233-239, August.
  15. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
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  17. Severin Borenstein, 1991. "Selling Costs and Switching Costs: Explaining Retail Gasoline Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 354-369, Autumn.
  18. Filardo, Andrew J, 1994. "Business-Cycle Phases and Their Transitional Dynamics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(3), pages 299-308, July.
  19. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "A Theory of Dynamic Oligopoly, II: Price Competition, Kinked Demand Curves, and Edgeworth Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(3), pages 571-99, May.
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  22. Lambson Val Eugene, 1994. "Some Results on Optimal Penal Codes in Asymmetric Bertrand Supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 444-468, April.
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  24. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
  25. Hamilton, James D., 1996. "Specification testing in Markov-switching time-series models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 127-157, January.
  26. Segerstrom, Paul S., 1988. "Demons and repentance," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 32-52, June.
  27. Hackner, Jonas, 1996. "Optimal symmetric punishments in a Bertrand differentiated products duopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 611-630, July.
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