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Do Antitrust Laws Facilitate Collusion? Experimental Evidence on Costly Communication in Duopolies

Using Bertrand supergames with communication, we study price formation and stability of collusive agreements on experimental duopoly markets. The experimental design consists of three treatments with different costs of communication: zero-cost, low-cost and high-cost. We find that increasing the cost of communication results in a significantly higher price level. Moreover, making communication costly decreases the number of messages, but more importantly, it enhances the stability of collusive agreements. By letting the cost of communication symbolize the presence of an antitrust law that prohibits firms from discussing prices, McCutcheon (1997) presents an interesting application to antitrust policy. The experimental results support her theoretical prediction that antitrust laws might work in the interest of firms.

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Paper provided by Lund University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2004:14.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 13 Apr 2004
Date of revision: 13 Sep 2004
Publication status: Published in The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2007, pages 321-339.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2004_014
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund,Sweden
Phone: +46 +46 222 0000
Fax: +46 +46 2224613
Web page: http://www.nek.lu.se/en
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  1. Farrell, Joseph & Maskin, Eric, 1987. "Renegotiation in Repeated Games," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt9wv3h5jb, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Blume Andreas, 1994. "Intraplay Communication in Repeated Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 181-211, March.
  3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2002. "Information disclosure in auctions: an experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 431-444, August.
  4. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  5. Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Working Papers 1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  7. Douglas Bernheim, B. & Ray, Debraj, 1989. "Collective dynamic consistency in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 295-326, December.
  8. Evans, Robert & Maskin, Eric, 1989. "Efficient renegotiation--proof equilibria in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 361-369, December.
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