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Optimal Collusion with Limited Liability and Policy Implications

  • Flochel, Laurent
  • Versaevel, Bruno
  • de Villemeur, Étienne

Collusion sustainability depends on firms’ aptitude to impose sufficiently severe punishments in case of deviation from the collusive rule. We characterize the ability of oligopolistic firms to implement a collusive strategy when their ability to punish deviations over one or several periods is limited by a severity constraint. It captures all situations in which either structural conditions (the form of payoff functions), institutional circumstances (a regulation), or financial considerations (profitability requirements) set a lower bound to firms’ losses. The model specifications encompass the structural assumptions (A1-A3) in Abreu (1986) [Journal of Economic Theory, 39, 191-225]. The optimal punishment scheme is characterized, and the expression of the lowest discount factor for which collusion can be sustained is computed, that both depend on the status of the severity constraint. This extends received results from the literature to a large class of models that include a severity constraint, and uncovers the role of structural parameters that facilitate collusion by relaxing the constraint.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 547.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision: Jul 2011
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:11169
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