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Cartel Pricing Dynamics with Cost Variability and Endogenous Buyer Detection

  • Joseph E Harrington Jr
  • Joe Chen

This paper characterizes collusive pricing patterns when buyers may detect the presence of a cartel. Buyers are assumed to become suspicious when observed prices are anomalous. We find that the cartel price path is comprised of two phases. During the transitional phase, price is generally rising and relatively unresponsive to cost shocks. During the stationary phase, price responds to cost but is much less sensitive than under non-collusion or simple monopoly. The length of the transition phase is decreasing in the variance of cost shocks. It is also shown that the cartel price path may overshoot its long-run level so that price converges from above.

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Paper provided by The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number 514.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
Date of revision: Sep 2004
Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:514
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  1. Hay, George A & Kelley, Daniel, 1974. "An Empirical Survey of Price Fixing Conspiracies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 13-38, April.
  2. Bolotova, Yuliya & Connor, John M. & Miller, Douglas J., 2008. "The impact of collusion on price behavior: Empirical results from two recent cases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1290-1307, November.
  3. Christie, William G & Schultz, Paul H, 1994. " Why Do NASDAQ Market Makers Avoid Odd-Eighth Quotes?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1813-40, December.
  4. Besanko, David & Spulber, Daniel F, 1989. "Antitrust Enforcement under Asymmetric Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 408-25, June.
  5. Foster, Dean P. & Young, H. Peyton, 2003. "Learning, hypothesis testing, and Nash equilibrium," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 73-96, October.
  6. 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.
  7. Joseph E. Harrington, 2004. "Post-Cartel Pricing During Litigation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 517-533, December.
  8. Besanko, David & Spulber, Daniel F, 1990. "Are Treble Damages Neutral? Sequential Equilibrium and Private Antitrust Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 870-87, September.
  9. Souam, Said, 2001. "Optimal antitrust policy under different regimes of fines," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 1-26, January.
  10. Joseph E Harrington, 2001. "Optimal Cartel Pricing in the Presence of an Antitrust Authority," Economics Working Paper Archive 460, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Jul 2002.
  11. Chantale LaCasse, 1995. "Bid Rigging and the Threat of Government Prosecution," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(3), pages 398-417, Autumn.
  12. Motta, M. & Polo, M., 1999. "Leniency Programs and Cartel Prosecution," Economics Working Papers eco99/23, European University Institute.
  13. Abrantes-Metz, Rosa M. & Froeb, Luke M. & Geweke, John & Taylor, Christopher T., 2006. "A variance screen for collusion," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 467-486, May.
  14. Philippe Cyrenne, 1999. "On Antitrust Enforcement and the Deterrence of Collusive Behaviour," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 257-272, May.
  15. Harrington, Joseph Jr., 2003. "Some implications of antitrust laws for cartel pricing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 377-383, June.
  16. Joseph E Harrington Jr, 2002. "Cartel Pricing Dynamics in the Presence of an Antitrust Authority," Economics Working Paper Archive 487, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised May 2003.
  17. Block, Michael Kent & Nold, Frederick Carl, 1981. "The Deterrent Effect of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 429-45, June.
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