Market Transparency and Competition Policy
We survey some of the literature on the effects of improved market transparency on competition in oligopoly. Generally, improved transparency from the perspective of firms makes detection of deviations from tacitly collusive agreements easier, thus facilitating oligopolistic coordination. On the other hand, improved transparency from the perspective of consumers, particularly in terms of easier comparability of goods characteristics, has ambiguous effects: More elastic demands make deviations from collusive prices more profitable to firms in the short run, but they also make future retaliation by rivals more severe. Which of these forces will dominate in a dynamic oligopoly competition is shown to depend on the markets-specifics. In light of the theoretical results, we discuss the likely effects on inter-firm competition of information exchange and online trading institutions as well as the American and European competition policy attitude towards market transparency.
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