Statistics on Modern Private International Cartels, 1990-2005
86 Pages Posted: 28 May 2007
Date Written: January 10, 2007
This report explains the principal economic and legal features of a unique set of data on 283 modern private international cartels discovered anywhere in the world from January 1990 to the end of 2005. Measured in real 2005 money, aggregate cartel sales and overcharges totaled about $1.2 trillion and $500 billion, respectively. In the early 2000s, about 35 such cartels were discovered each year. We find that global cartels comprise more than half of the sample's affected sales and are larger, longer lasting, and more injurious than other types. In the early 2000s world-wide corporate penalties stabilized at or above $2 billion per year, one-thousand times penalties in the early 1990s. More than 40% of those penalties were from settlements in private suits, and most of the rest are fines imposed by U.S. and EU antitrust authorities.
Median penalties are low: from 1.4% to 4.9% of affected sales, depending on the type of prosecution. As a proportion of damages, median fines ranged from less than 1% for EU-wide cartels to 17.6% for Canada. Private plaintiffs obtained 38% of damages from international cartelists. World wide, median real cartel penalties of all types amounted to about 20% of overcharges.
Keywords: cartel, price fixing, overcharge, antitrust enforcement, optimal deterrence
JEL Classification: L12, L42, K22, B14, F29
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