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Vertical Restraints in the Bromine Cartel: The Role of Distributors in Facilitating Collusion

  • Margaret Levenstein

From 1885 to 1902 manufacturers and distributors in the American bromine industry cooperated to increase prices and profits. Like many sectors of the American economy at the time, the bromine industry was made up a large number of small manufacturers and a small number of national distributors. The manufacturers agreed to pool their output and sell only to two distributors. The distributors accumulated excess inventories rather than let the market price fall, but then used those inventories as a threat to deter cheating and new entry. Industry participants designed contracts to balance fluctuations in the costs and benefits from cheating. These contracts succeeded in stabilizing collusion until the entry of new, vertically integrated, mass production firm led to its demise.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0049.

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Date of creation: Jul 1993
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0049
Note: DAE IO
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  1. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1986. "Optimal cartel equilibria with imperfect monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 251-269, June.
  2. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1989. "The Cyclical Behavior of Strategic Inventories," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(1), pages 73-97, February.
  3. Friedman, James W, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(113), pages 1-12, January.
  4. 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.
  5. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1985. "Common Marketing Agency as a Device for Facilitating Collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(2), pages 269-281, Summer.
  6. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Common Agency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 923-42, July.
  7. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
  8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1990. "Multimarket Contact and Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
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