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Price Wars and the Stability of Collusion: A Study of the Pre-World War I Bromine Industry


  • Margaret Levenstein


Bromine producers colluded to raise prices and profits during most of the period between 1885 and 1914. Collusion was punctuated by price wars in which prices fell sharply. The characteristics of these price wars are compared with those in the Green-Porter and Abreu- Pearce-Stachetti models. Some of the bromine price wars resulted from the imperfect monitoring problems in these models. Those price wars were short and mild. More severe price wars were part of a bargaining process, in which firms tried to force a renegotiation to a new collusive equilibrium with a different distribution of rents.

Suggested Citation

  • Margaret Levenstein, 1993. "Price Wars and the Stability of Collusion: A Study of the Pre-World War I Bromine Industry," NBER Historical Working Papers 0050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0050 Note: DAE

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Garrod, Luke, 2012. "Collusive price rigidity under price-matching punishments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 471-482.
    2. David Mayer-Foulkes, 2011. "Vulnerable Markets," DEGIT Conference Papers c016_040, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    3. Péter Benczúr & Cosmin L. Ilut, 2016. "Evidence For Relational Contracts In Sovereign Bank Lending," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 375-404, April.
    4. Harrington, Joseph E. & Hüschelrath, Kai & Laitenberger, Ulrich & Smuda, Florian, 2015. "The discontent cartel member and cartel collapse: The case of the German cement cartel," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 106-119.
    5. Chaim Fershtman & Ariel Pakes, 2000. "A Dynamic Oligopoly with Collusion and Price Wars," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 207-236, Summer.
    6. Volker Nocke & Lucy White, 2007. "Do Vertical Mergers Facilitate Upstream Collusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1321-1339, September.
    7. David Genesove & Wallace P. Mullin, 2001. "Rules, Communication, and Collusion: Narrative Evidence from the Sugar Institute Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 379-398, June.
    8. Mikael Juselius & Moshe Kim & Staffan Ringbom, 2015. "Do markup dynamics reflect fundamentals or changes in conduct?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1119-1147, May.
    9. Brenner, Steffen, 2009. "An empirical study of the European corporate leniency program," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 639-645, November.
    10. Andersson, Ola, 2006. "Bargaining in Collusive Markets," Working Papers 2006:21, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    11. Peter Benczur & Cosmin Ilut, 2011. "Evidence for Dynamic Contracts in Sovereign Bank Lending," Working Papers 11-06, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    12. Hüschelrath, Kai, 2008. "Is it Worth all the Trouble? The Costs and Benefits of Antitrust Enforcement," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-107, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    13. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2011. "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Determinants of Cartel Duration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 455-492.
    14. Dye, Alan & Sicotte, Richard, 2006. "How brinkmanship saved Chadbourne: Credibility and the International Sugar Agreement of 1931," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 223-256, April.
    15. Bolotova, Yuliya V., 2009. "Cartel overcharges: An empirical analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 321-341, May.
    16. Volker Nocke & Lucy White, 2003. "Do Vertical Mergers Facilitate Upstream Collusion? Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 08 Mar 2005.
    17. de Roos, Nicolas, 2004. "A model of collusion timing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 351-387, March.
    18. John Sutton, 1996. "Game Theoretical Models of Market Structure," STICERD - Economics of Industry Papers 15, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    19. Luís Cabral, 2005. "Collusion Theory: Where to Go Next?," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 199-206, December.
    20. Johannes Hörner & Julian Jamison, 2007. "Collusion with (almost) no information," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(3), pages 804-822, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • N61 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913


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