Fines, Leniency, Rewards and Organized Crime: Evidence from Antitrust Experiments

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance No. 698

31 Pages Posted: 20 May 2008

See all articles by Maria Bigoni

Maria Bigoni

University of Bologna - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sven-Olof Fridolfsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Chloe Le Coq

SITE-Stockholm School of Economics

Giancarlo Spagnolo

Stockholm School of Economics (SITE); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Rome 'Tor Vergata'; EIEF

Date Written: 20/05/2008

Abstract

Leniency policies and rewards for whistleblowers are being introduced in ever more fields of law enforcement, though their deterrence effects are often hard to observe, and the likely effect of changes in the specific features of these schemes can only be observed experimentally. This paper reports results from an experiment designed to examine the effects of fines, leniency programs, and reward schemes for whistleblowers on firms' decision to form cartels (cartel deterrence) and on their price choices. Our subjects play a repeated Bertrand price game with differentiated goods and uncertain duration, and we run several treatments differing in the probability of cartels being caught, the level of fine, the possibility of self-reporting (and not paying a fine), the existence of a reward for reporting. We find that fines following successful investigations but without leniency have a deterrence effect (reduce the number of cartels formed) but also a pro-collusive effect (increase collusive prices in surviving cartels). Leniency programs might not be more efficient than standard antitrust enforcement, since in our experiment they do deter a significantly higher fraction of cartels from forming, but they also induce even higher prices in those cartels that are not reported, pushing average market price significantly up relative to treatments without antitrust enforcement. With rewards for whistle blowing, instead, cartels are systematically reported, which completely disrupts subjects' ability to form cartels and sustain high prices, and almost complete deterrence is achieved. If the ringleader is excluded from the leniency program the deterrence effect of leniency falls and prices are higher than otherwise. As for tacit collusion, under standard antitrust enforcement or leniency programs subjects who do not communicate (do not go for explicit cartels) tend to choose weakly higher prices than where there is no anti-trust enforcement. We also analyze post-conviction behavior, finding that there is a strong ex-post deterrence (desistance) effect. Moreover post-conviction prices are on average lower than before even though the average prices within cartels are the same. Finally, we find a strong cultural effect comparing treatments in Stockholm with those in Rome, suggesting that optimal law enforcement institutions differ with culture.

Keywords: Antitrust, Collusion, Experiment, Leniency

JEL Classification: K21, L13, L41

Suggested Citation

Bigoni, Maria and Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof and Le Coq, Chloe and Spagnolo, Giancarlo, Fines, Leniency, Rewards and Organized Crime: Evidence from Antitrust Experiments (20/05/2008). SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance No. 698 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1134725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1134725

Maria Bigoni

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, Bologna 40126
Italy
+390512098134 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/maria.bigoni/en

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Sven-Olof Fridolfsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Chloe Le Coq

SITE-Stockholm School of Economics ( email )

PO Box 6501
Stockholm, 11383
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.hhs.se/SITE/Staff/Pages/ChloeLeCoq.aspxl

Giancarlo Spagnolo (Contact Author)

Stockholm School of Economics (SITE) ( email )

P.O. Box 6501
Stockholm
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/giancarlospagnoloshomepage/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

University of Rome 'Tor Vergata' ( email )

Faculty of Economics - DEI
Via Columbia 2
Rome, RM 00133
Italy

EIEF ( email )

Via Due Macelli, 73
Rome, 00187
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://WWW.EIEF.IT

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