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Free entry does not imply zero profits

  • Sjaak Hurkens
  • Nir Vulkan

Traditional economic wisdom says that free entry in a market will drive profits down to zero. This conclusion is usually drawn under the assumption of perfect information. We assume that a priori there exists imperfect information about the profitability of the market, but that potential entrants may learn the demand curve perfectly at negligible cost by engaging in market research. Even if in equilibrium firms learn the demand perfectly, profits may be strictly positive because of insufficient entry. The mere fact that it will not become common knowledge that every entrant has perfect information about demand causes this surprising result. Belief means doubt. Knowing means certainty. Introduction to the Kabalah.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 268.

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Date of creation: Dec 1997
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:268
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1998. "Sequential Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 237, David K. Levine.
  2. Boyan Jovanovic, 1981. "Entry With Private Information," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 649-660, Autumn.
  3. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  4. Hwang Hae-shin, 1993. "Optimal Information Acquisition for Heterogenous Duopoly Firms," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 385-402, April.
  5. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Limit Pricing and Entry under Incomplete Information: An Equilibrium Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 443-59, March.
  6. N. Gregory Mankiw & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 48-58, Spring.
  7. Hurkens, Sjaak & Vulkan, Nir, 2001. "Information acquisition and entry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 467-479, April.
  8. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
  9. Harold Demsetz, 1981. "Barriers to Entry," UCLA Economics Working Papers 192, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13, January.
  11. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  12. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  13. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Reiss, Peter C, 1990. "Entry in Monopoly Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(4), pages 531-53, October.
  14. Posner, Richard A, 1975. "The Social Costs of Monopoly and Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 807-27, August.
  15. Rob, Rafael, 1991. "Learning and Capacity Expansion under Demand Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 655-75, July.
  16. Vives, Xavier, 1988. "Aggregation of Information in Large Cournot Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 851-76, July.
  17. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1987. "Contracts as a Barrier to Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 388-401, June.
  18. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, 1987. "Do Entry Conditions Vary across Markets?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 833-882.
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