Collusion with Intertemporal Price Dispersion
55 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 9, 2015
We develop a theory of optimal collusive intertemporal price dispersion. Dispersion clouds consumer price awareness, encouraging firms to coordinate on dispersed prices. Our theory generates a collusive rationale for price cycles and sales. Patient firms can support optimal collusion at the monopoly price. For less patient firms, monopoly prices must be punctuated with fleeting sales. The most robust structure involves asymmetric price cycles resembling Edgeworth cycles. Low consumer attentiveness enhances the effectiveness of price dispersion by reducing the payoff to deviations involving price reductions. However, for sufficiently low attentiveness, price rises are also a concern, limiting the power of obfuscation.
Keywords: Collusion, obfuscation, price dispersion
JEL Classification: L13, D83
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