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Fines, Leniency, Rewards and Organized Crime: Evidence from Antitrust Experiments

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Abstract

Leniency policies and rewards for whistleblowers are being introduced in ever more fields of law enforcement, though their deterrence effects are often hard to observe, and the likely effect of changes in the specific features of these schemes can only be observed experimentally. This paper reports results from an experiment designed to examine the effects of fines, leniency programs, and reward schemes for whistleblowers on firms' decision to form cartels (cartel deterrence) and on their price choices. Our subjects play a repeated Bertrand price game with differentiated goods and uncertain duration, and we run several treatments different in the probability of cartels being caught, the level of fine, the possibility of self-reporting (and not paying a fine), the existence of a reward for reporting. We find that fines following successful investigations but without leniency have a deterrence effect (reduce the number of cartels formed) but also a pro-collusive effect (increase collusive prices in surviving cartels). Leniency programs might not be more efficient than standard antitrust enforcement, since in our experiment they do deter a significantly higher fraction of cartels from forming, but they also induce even higher prices in those cartels that are not reported, pushing average market price significantly up relative to treatments without antitrust enforcement. With rewards for whistle blowing, instead, cartels are systematically reported, which completely disrupts subjects' ability to form cartels and sustain high prices, and almost complete deterrence is achieved. We also analyze post-conviction behavior, finding that there is a strong expost deterrence (desistance) effect. Moreover post-conviction prices are on average lower than before even though the average prices within cartels are the same. Finally, we find a strong cultural effect comparing treatments in Stockholm with those in Rome, suggesting that optimal law enforcement institutions differ with culture.

Suggested Citation

  • Bigoni, Maria & Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Le Coq, Chloe & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2008. "Fines, Leniency, Rewards and Organized Crime: Evidence from Antitrust Experiments," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 698, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0698
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Buccirossi, Paolo & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2006. "Leniency policies and illegal transactions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1281-1297.
    2. Robert W. Crandall & Clifford Winston, 2005. "Does antitrust policy improve consumer welfare? Assessing the evidence," Chapters,in: Governments, Competition and Utility Regulation, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2006. "Leniency and Whistleblowers in Antitrust," CEPR Discussion Papers 5794, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2004. "Divide et Impera: Optimal Leniency Programmes," CEPR Discussion Papers 4840, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters, 2006. "Does Auctioning of Entry Licences Induce Collusion? An Experimental Study," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 769-791.
    6. Buccirossi, Paolo & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2006. "Optimal Fines in the Era of Whistleblowers," CEPR Discussion Papers 5465, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Anders Skrondal & Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, 2007. "Latent Variable Modelling: A Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Danish Society for Theoretical Statistics;Finnish Statistical Society;Norwegian Statistical Association;Swedish Statistical Association, vol. 34(4), pages 712-745.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sauvagnat, Julien, 2010. "Prosecution and Leniency Programs: a Fool's Game," TSE Working Papers 10-188, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Jana Krajcova & Andreas Ortmann, 2008. "Testing Leniency Programs Experimentally: The Impact of “Natural” Framing," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp372, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    3. Eberhard Feess & Markus Walzl, 2010. "Evidence Dependence of Fine Reductions in Corporate Leniency Programs," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 166(4), pages 573-590, December.
    4. Jana Krajcova, 2008. "Testing Leniency Programs Experimentally: The Impact of Change in Parameterization," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp370, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Anti-trust; Collusion; Experiment; Leniency;

    JEL classification:

    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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