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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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    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
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    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 1991. "An approximate folk theorem with imperfect private information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 26-47, June.
    2. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K., 1991. "Efficiency and Obsevability with Long-Run and Short-Run Players," Working papers 591, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    3. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 2004. "Collusion and Price Rigidity," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 317-349, 04.
    4. 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.
    5. Michihiro Kandori & Hitoshi Matsushima, 1998. "Private Observation, Communication and Collusion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 627-652, May.
    6. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David I & Maskin, Eric, 1994. "The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 997-1039, September.
    7. Bruno Jullien & Patrick Rey, 2007. "Resale price maintenance and collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(4), pages 983-1001, December.
    8. Olivier Compte, 1998. "Communication in Repeated Games with Imperfect Private Monitoring," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 597-626, May.
    9. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," Working papers 99-17, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    10. 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.
    11. Genesove, David & Mullin, Wallace P, 2001. "Rules, Communication and Collusion: Narrative Evidence from the Sugar Institute Case," CEPR Discussion Papers 2739, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Kai-Uwe Kühn, 2001. "Fighting collusion by regulating communication between firms," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 167-204, 04.
    13. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
    14. Porter, Robert H., 1983. "Optimal cartel trigger price strategies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 313-338, April.
    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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