A Cartel that Lasts for Centuries: The Case of the Eastern Orthodox Church Indulgences

Yale ICF Working Paper No. 06-13

37 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2012

See all articles by Christos Cabolis

Christos Cabolis

IMD; Yale SOM International Center for Finance

Kostas Axarloglou

ALBA Graduate Business School

Nikolaos Chrissidis

Southern Connecticut State University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 13, 2012

Abstract

In this paper, we present a non-conventional case of collusive behavior and tactics that last for centuries. In particular, we focus on the process through which the Patriarchates of the Eastern Orthodox Church (specifically, those of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) distributed indulgences to believers in their jurisdictions during the period between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. By employing a wide variety of primary sources such as correspondence among the various patriarchates and among individual clerics, printing orders for indulgences, and income-expenditure records, among others, we present evidence of oligopolistic interaction and behavior among the various Patriarchates in the distribution of indulgences. The observed long-duration of this collusive structure is the outcome of high barriers to entry, well defined market segmentation, effective monitoring, a strong enforcement mechanism and finally no product innovation. Overall, the data suggest that, besides their spiritual importance, indulgences were promoted in a way that resembles very much the distribution method and process of any typical product in a modern market economy.

Keywords: Cartel, Collusive behavior, Indulgences, Oligopolistic Interaction, Price Discrimination Regulation

JEL Classification: A12, D12, L4, L43

Suggested Citation

Cabolis, Christos and Axarloglou, Kostas and Chrissidis, Nikolaos, A Cartel that Lasts for Centuries: The Case of the Eastern Orthodox Church Indulgences (April 13, 2012). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 06-13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2083870 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2083870

Christos Cabolis (Contact Author)

IMD ( email )

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Yale SOM International Center for Finance ( email )

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Kostas Axarloglou

ALBA Graduate Business School ( email )

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Nikolaos Chrissidis

Southern Connecticut State University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06515
United States

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