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Tacit Collusion in the Presence of Cyclical Demand and Endogenous Capacity Levels

  • Christopher R. Knittel
  • Jason J. Lepore

We analyze tacit collusion in an industry characterized by cyclical demand and long-run scale decisions; firms face deterministic demand cycles and choose capacity levels prior to competing in prices. Our focus is on the nature of prices. We find that two types of price wars may exist. In one, collusion can involve periods of mixed strategy price wars. In the other, consistent with the Rotemberg and Saloner (1986) definition of price wars, we show that collusive prices can also become countercyclical. We also establish pricing patterns with respect to the relative prices in booms and recessions. If the marginal cost of capacity is high enough, holding current demand constant, prices in the boom will be generally lower than the prices in the recession; this reverses the results of Haltiwanger and Harrington (1991). In contrast, if the marginal cost of capacity is low enough, then prices in the boom will be generally higher than the prices in the recession. For costs in an intermediate range, numerical examples are calculated to show specific pricing patterns.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12635.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Publication status: published as Knittel, Christopher R. & Lepore, Jason J., 2010. "Tacit collusion in the presence of cyclical demand and endogenous capacity levels," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 131-144, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12635
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  1. Fabra, Natlia, 2003. "Collusion with Capacity Constraints over the Business Cycle," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1cv2d2ww, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Deneckere, Raymond J & Kovenock, Dan, 1992. "Price Leadership," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 143-62, January.
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  3. Lambson, Val Eugene, 1987. "Optimal Penal Codes in Price-Setting Supergames with Capacity Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 385-97, July.
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  6. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1995. "Collusion Over the Business Cycle," Discussion Papers 1118, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Abreu, Dilip, 1986. "Extremal equilibria of oligopolistic supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 191-225, June.
  8. Compte, Olivier & Jenny, Frederic & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "Capacity constraints, mergers and collusion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
  9. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock, 2011. "Endogenous rationing, price dispersion and collusion in capacity constrained supergames," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 29-74, May.
  10. Osborne, Martin J. & Pitchik, Carolyn, 1983. "Price Competition in a Capacity-Constrained Duopoly," Working Papers 83-08, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  11. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-96, March.
  12. Richard E. Levitan & Martin Shubik, 1970. "Price Duopoly and Capacity Constraints," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 287, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  13. Davidson, Carl & Deneckere, Raymond J, 1990. "Excess Capacity and Collusion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(3), pages 521-41, August.
  14. Dasgupta, Partha & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Existence of Equilibrium in Discontinuous Economic Games, I: Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 1-26, January.
  15. Reynolds, Stanley S. & Wilson, Bart J., 2000. "Bertrand-Edgeworth Competition, Demand Uncertainty, and Asymmetric Outcomes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 122-141, May.
  16. Lambson Val Eugene, 1994. "Some Results on Optimal Penal Codes in Asymmetric Bertrand Supergames," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 444-468, April.
  17. Kandori, Michihiro, 1991. "Correlated Demand Shocks and Price Wars during Booms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 171-80, January.
  18. Rosenbaum, David I. & Sukharomana, Supachat, 2001. "Oligopolistic pricing over the deterministic market demand cycle: some evidence from the US Portland cement industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 863-884, May.
  19. Dasgupta, Partha & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Existence of Equilibrium in Discontinuous Economic Games, II: Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 27-41, January.
  20. Robert W. Staiger & Frank A. Wolak, 1992. "Collusive Pricing with Capacity Constraints in the Presence of Demand Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 203-220, Summer.
  21. 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.
  22. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
  23. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1987. "Dynamic Duopoly: Prices and Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 23-35, January.
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