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Private Observation, Tacit Collusion and Collusion with Communication

  • Mouraviev, Igor

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

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    The paper studies the role of communication in facilitating collusion. The situation of infinitely repeated Cournot competition in the presence of antitrust enforcement is considered. Firms observe only their own production levels and a common market price. The price is assumed to have a stochastic component, so that a low price may signal either deviations from collusive output levels or a 'downward' demand shock. The firms choose between tacit collusion and collusion with communication. Communication implies that the firms meet and exchange information about past outputs and is assumed to be the only legal proof of cartel behavior. The antitrust enforcement takes the form of an exogenous probability to detect the meetings, in which case the firms are sued for cartel behavior and pay a fine. Tacit collusion is assumed to provide no grounds for the legal action but involves inefficiencies due to the lack of complete information about individual output levels. It is shown that there exists a range of discount factors where collusion with communication constitutes the most profitable collusive strategy.

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    File URL: http://www.ifn.se/Wfiles/wp/wp672.pdf
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    Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 672.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: 25 Oct 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0672
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
    Phone: +46 8 665 4500
    Fax: +46 8 665 4599
    Web page: http://www.ifn.se/
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    1. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K. & Maskin, E., 1989. "The Folk Theorem With Inperfect Public Information," Working papers 523, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    2. 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.
    3. Athey, Susan & Bagwell, Kyle, 2001. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 428-65, Autumn.
    4. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 2004. "Collusion and Price Rigidity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 317-349.
    5. David Genesove & Wallace P. Mullin, 2001. "Rules, Communication, and Collusion: Narrative Evidence from the Sugar Institute Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 379-398, June.
    6. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
    7. Olivier Compte, 1998. "Communication in Repeated Games with Imperfect Private Monitoring," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 597-626, May.
    8. Bruno Jullien & Patrick Rey, 2007. "Resale price maintenance and collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(4), pages 983-1001, December.
    9. Michihiro Kandori & Hitoshi Matsushima, 1998. "Private Observation, Communication and Collusion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 627-652, May.
    10. Levine, David & Fudenberg, Drew, 1994. "Efficiency and Observability with Long-Run and Short-Run Players," Scholarly Articles 3203774, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    11. D. Fudenberg & D. K. Levine, 1991. "An Approximate Folk Theorem with Imperfect Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 607, David K. Levine.
    12. Porter, Robert H., 1983. "Optimal cartel trigger price strategies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 313-338, April.
    13. 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.
    14. Kai-Uwe Kühn, 2001. "Fighting collusion by regulating communication between firms," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 167-204, 04.
    15. Ben-Porath, Elchanan & Kahneman, Michael, 1996. "Communication in Repeated Games with Private Monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 281-297, August.
    16. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-54, May.
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