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Information in Cournot: Signaling with Incomplete Control

We embed signaling in the classical Cournot model in which several firms sell a homogeneous good. The quality is known to all the firms, but only to some buyers. The quantity-setting firms can manipulate the price to signal quality. Because there is only one price in a market for a homogeneous good, each firm incompletely controls the price-signal through the quantity decision. We characterize the unique signaling Cournot equilibrium in which the price signals quality to the uninformed buyers. We then compare the signaling Cournot equilibrium with the full-information Cournot equilibrium. Signaling is shown to increase the equilibrium price. Moreover, under certain conditions regarding the composition of buyers, the number of firms, and the distribution of costs across firms, the effects of signalling and market externality cancel each other. In other words, the profits under signaling Cournot equal the profits of a cartel in a full-information environment.

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Paper provided by HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 09-09.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision: Nov 2011
Handle: RePEc:iea:carech:0909
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  1. Kyle Bagwell & Michael Riordan, 1988. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," Discussion Papers 808, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  3. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008. "Communicating quality: a unified model of disclosure and signalling," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(4), pages 973-989.
  4. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2003. "Secrecy and Safety," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0317, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Sep 2003.
  5. Maarten C.W. Janssen & Santanu Roy, 2007. "Signaling Quality Through Prices in an Oligopoly," Departmental Working Papers 0709, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2008.
  6. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Mirman Leonard J. & Samuelson Larry & Schlee Edward E., 1994. "Strategic Information Manipulation in Duopolies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 363-384, April.
  8. Mirman, L.J. & Samuelson, L. & Urbano, A., 1989. "Duopoly Signal Jamming," Papers 8-89-8, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  9. Aghion, P. & Bolton, P. & Harris, C. & Jullien, B., 1990. "Optimal Learning By Experimentation," DELTA Working Papers 90-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  10. Michael H. Riordan, 1985. "Imperfect Information and Dynamic Conjectural Variations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 41-50, Spring.
  11. Ramon Caminal & Xavier Vives, 1996. "Why Market Shares Matter: An Information-Based Theory," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 221-239, Summer.
  12. Anderson, Simon P & Renault, Regis, 2000. "Consumer Information and Firm Pricing: Negative Externalities from Improved Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 721-42, August.
  13. Joseph E. Harrington Jr., 1987. "Oligopolistic Entry Deterrence under Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 211-231, Summer.
  14. Grossman, Sanford J & Kihlstrom, Richard E & Mirman, Leonard J, 1977. "A Bayesian Approach to the Production of Information and Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 533-47, October.
  15. Fabio Caldieraro & Dongsoo Shin & Andrew Stivers, 2011. "Voluntary Quality Disclosure under Price‐Signaling Competition," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32, pages 493-504, December.
  16. Aghion, Philippe, et al, 1991. "Optimal Learning by Experimentation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 621-54, July.
  17. Christos Koulovatianos, & Leonard J. Mirman & Marc Santugini, . "Optimal Growth and Uncertainty: Learning," Discussion Papers 08/08, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  18. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2005. "Imperfect Competition and Quality Signaling," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0520, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  19. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2004. "Competition and Confidentiality: Signaling Quality in a Duopoly when there is Universal Private Information," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0417, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  20. Wolinsky, Asher, 1983. "Prices as Signals of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 647-58, October.
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