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

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Abstract

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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  • Andersson, Ola & Wengström, Erik, 2004. "Do Antitrust Laws Facilitate Collusion? Experimental Evidence on Costly Communication in Duopolies," Working Papers 2004:14, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 13 Sep 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2004_014
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    1. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
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    5. Blume Andreas, 1994. "Intraplay Communication in Repeated Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 181-211, March.
    6. Evans, Robert & Maskin, Eric, 1989. "Efficient renegotiation--proof equilibria in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 361-369, December.
    7. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2002. "Information disclosure in auctions: an experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 431-444, August.
    8. Douglas Bernheim, B. & Ray, Debraj, 1989. "Collective dynamic consistency in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 295-326, December.
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    Keywords

    Antitrust Policy; Experiments; Collusion; Costly Communication; Weakly Renegotiation-proof Equilibria;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General

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