nep-com New Economics Papers
on Industrial Competition
Issue of 2021‒10‒11
23 papers chosen by
Russell Pittman
United States Department of Justice

  1. The ambiguous competitive effects of passive partial forward integration By Papadopoulos, Konstantinos G.; Petrakis, Emmanuel; Skartados, Panagiotis
  2. Platform Competition and Interoperability: The Net Fee Model By Mehmet Ekmekci; Alexander White; Lingxuan Wu
  3. On the social welfare effects of runner-up mergers in concentrated markets By Jovanovic, Dragan; Wey, Christian; Zhang, Mengxi
  4. Consumer naivete and competitive add-on pricing on platforms By Ghosh, Meenakshi
  5. Estimating Demand with Multi-Homing in Two-Sided Markets By Pauline Affeldt; Elena Argentesi; Lapo Filistrucchi
  6. Truly Costly Search and Word-of-Mouth Communication By Atabek Atayev
  7. Organizational Structure and Pricing: Evidence from a Large U.S. Airline By Ali Hortaçsu, Olivia R. Natan, Hayden Parsley, Timothy Schwieg, Kevin R. Williams; Ali Hortaçsu, Olivia R. Natan, Hayden Parsley, Timothy Schwieg, Kevin R. Williams; Ali Hortaçsu, Olivia R. Natan, Hayden Parsley, Timothy Schwieg, Kevin R. Williams; Ali Hortaçsu, , ,; Olivia R. Natan; Hayden Parsley; Timothy Schwieg; Kevin R. Williams
  8. Information Technology and Returns to Scale By D. LASHKARI; A. BAUER; J. BOUSSARD
  9. Sectoral inflation persistence, market concentration, and imperfect common knowledge By Ryo Kato; Tatsushi Okuda; Takayuki Tsuruga
  10. Consumer Loss Aversion and Scale-Dependent Psychological Switching Costs By Heiko Karle; Heiner Schumacher; Rune Vølund
  11. Competition, quality and integrated health care By Kurt R. Brekke; Luigi Siciliani; Odd Rune Straume
  12. Market Power and Labor Share By A. BAUER; J. BOUSSARD
  13. The Heterogeneous Impact of Market Size on Innovation:Evidence from French Firm-Level Exports By P. AGHION; A. BERGEAUD; M. LEQUIEN; M.J.
  14. Autonomous algorithmic collusion: Economic research and policy implications By Stephanie Assad; Emilio Calvano; Giacomo Calzolari; Robert Clark; Vincenzo Denicolo; Daniel Ershov; Justin Pappas Johnson; Sergio Pastorello; Andrew Rhodes; Lei Xu; Matthijs Wildenbeest
  15. The Canadian Pacific -- Kansas City Southern Railway Merger and the Optimal Railroad Network By Yanyou Chen
  16. Why do firms compete on price comparison websites? The impact on productivity, profits, and wages By Lindgren, Charlie; Li, Yujiao; Rudholm, Niklas
  17. “For the public benefit”: who should control our data? By Sarit Markovich; Yaron Yehezkel
  18. Delivery Times in International Competition: An Empirical Investigation By Ciani, Andrea; Mau, Karsten
  19. Dynamics of Large Multinationals By Elhanan Helpman; Benjamin C. Niswonger
  20. Import Competition and Firms’ Internal Networks By Jay Hyun; Ziho Park; Vladimir Smirnyagin
  21. Two-Sided Matching Between Fashion Firms and Publishers: When Firms Strategically Target Consumers for Brand Image By Yao (Alex) Yao; Sha Yang; K. Sudhir
  22. Has Bank Consolidation Changed People’s Access to a Full-Service Bank Branch? By Kyle Fee; Erik Tiersten-Nyman
  23. Streaming Stimulates the Live Concert Industry: Evidence from YouTube By Finn Christensen

  1. By: Papadopoulos, Konstantinos G.; Petrakis, Emmanuel; Skartados, Panagiotis
    Abstract: In a two-tier industry with an upstream monopolist supplier and downstream competition with differentiated goods, we show that passive partial forward integration (PPFI) has ambiguous effects on competition and welfare. When vertical trading is conducted via linear tariffs, PPFI is pro-competitive and welfare-increasing. While under two-part tariffs, it is anti-competitive and welfare-decreasing. These hold irrespectively of the degree of product differentiation, the observability or secrecy of contract terms, the mode of downstream competition, and the distribution of bargaining power between firms.
    Keywords: Partial Passive Forward Integration; Two-Part Tariffs; Linear Tariffs; Competition; Welfare
    JEL: D43 L13
    Date: 2021–10–01
  2. By: Mehmet Ekmekci (Department of Economics, Boston College); Alexander White (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University); Lingxuan Wu (Department of Economics, Harvard University)
    Abstract: We study the effects of competition and interoperabilty in platform markets. To do so, we adopt an approach of competition in net fees, which is well-suited to situations where users pay additional charges, after joining, for on-platform interactions. Compared to other approaches, net fees expand the tractable scope to allow platform asymmetry and variable total demand. Regarding competition, our findings raise concerns, including possible dominance-inducing entry, which symmetric models overlook. Our results are more optimistic towards the helpfulness of policies that promote interoperability among platforms, but they urge caution when total demand variability is a significant factor.
    Keywords: Platform Competition, Big Tech, Net Fees, Interoperability
    JEL: D21 D43 D85 L13
    Date: 2021–09
  3. By: Jovanovic, Dragan; Wey, Christian; Zhang, Mengxi
    Abstract: This paper argues that it cannot be taken for granted that any merger that raises consumer surplus also increases social welfare. We assume a Cournot model with homogeneous goods, linear demand, and constant marginal costs, to show that a merger can raise consumer surplus while harming social welfare. Within this framework, we show that such an outcome depends on two conditions: the merger is between small firms (i.e., relatively inefficient firms) and it reduces concentration; that is, a constellation which can be characterized as a "runner-up" merger.
    Keywords: Runner-up Mergers,Efficiencies,Oligopoly,welfare
    JEL: K21 L13 L41
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Ghosh, Meenakshi
    Abstract: We model a situation where two sellers trade vertically and horizontally differentiated goods on a platform for which they are charged a commission fee. Sellers' costs are asymmetric due to differences in the fees charged by the platform and in their costs of production. Consumers purchase either a base good, or a bundle comprising of the base good and an add-on, from one of the sellers on the platform. Consumers differ in their brand preferences, valuations of quality and in their levels of sophistication. More specifically, we assume that there is a fraction of consumers who are naive, and do not observe or consider add-on prices - possibly because they do not foresee their demand for an add-on - until after they have committed to buying the base good from a seller. We examine how the interplay of these forces shapes consumer behavior, sellers' pricing strategies and cost pass-through, and platform fees and revenues.
    Keywords: add-on pricing, consumer naivete, cost asymmetry, horizontal differentiation, platform fees, cost pass-through
    JEL: D43 L11 L14 L15
    Date: 2021–10–01
  5. By: Pauline Affeldt; Elena Argentesi; Lapo Filistrucchi
    Abstract: We empirically investigate the relevance of multi-homing in two-sided markets. First, we build a micro-founded structural econometric model that encompasses demand for differentiated products and allows for multi-homing on both sides of themarket. We then use an original dataset on the Italian daily newspaper market that includes information on double-homing by readers to estimate readers’ and advertisers’ demand. The results show that an econometric model that does not allow for multi-homing is likely to produce biased estimates of demand on both sides of the market. In particular, on the reader side, accounting for multi-homing helps to recognize complementarity between products; on the advertising side, it allows to measure to what extent advertising demand depends on the shares of exclusive and overlapping readers.
    JEL: C51 D43 L13 L82 M37
    Date: 2021–09
  6. By: Atabek Atayev
    Abstract: In markets with search frictions, consumers can acquire information about goods either through costly search or from friends via word-of-mouth (WOM) communication. How do sellers' market power react to a very large increase in the number of consumers' friends with whom they engage in WOM? The answer to the question depends on whether consumers are freely endowed with price information. If acquiring price quotes is costly, equilibrium prices are dispersed and the expected price is higher than the marginal cost of production. This implies that firms retain market power even if price information is disseminated among a very large number of consumers due to technological progress, such as social networking websites.
    Date: 2021–09
  7. By: Ali Hortaçsu, Olivia R. Natan, Hayden Parsley, Timothy Schwieg, Kevin R. Williams (University of Chicago and NBER); Ali Hortaçsu, Olivia R. Natan, Hayden Parsley, Timothy Schwieg, Kevin R. Williams (University of Chicago and NBER); Ali Hortaçsu, Olivia R. Natan, Hayden Parsley, Timothy Schwieg, Kevin R. Williams (University of Chicago and NBER); Ali Hortaçsu, , , (University of Chicago and NBER); Olivia R. Natan (University of California, Berkeley); Hayden Parsley (University of Texas, Austin); Timothy Schwieg (University of Chicago, Booth); Kevin R. Williams (Yale School of Management and NBER)
    Abstract: We study how organizational boundaries affect pricing decisions using comprehensive data provided by a large U.S. airline. We show that contrary to prevailing theories of the firm, advanced pricing algorithms have multiple biases. To quantify the impacts of these biases, we estimate a structural demand model using sales and search data and recover the demand curves the firm believes it faces using forecasting data. In counterfactuals, we show that correcting biases introduced by organizational teams individually have little impact on market outcomes, but addressing all biases simultaneously leads to higher prices and increased dead-weight loss in the markets studied.
    Keywords: Pricing Frictions, Organizational Inertia, Dynamic Pricing, Revenue Man-agement, Behavioral IO
    JEL: C11 C53 D22 D42 L10 L93
    Date: 2021–10
  8. By: D. LASHKARI (Boston College); A. BAUER (Insee - Crest); J. BOUSSARD (Commission européenne - Crest)
    Abstract: Relying on a novel dataset on hardware and software investments in the universe of French firms, we document a robust within-industry correlation between firm size and the intensity of IT demand. To explain this fact, we argue that the relative marginal product of IT inputs may rise with firm scale, since IT helps firms deal with organizational limits to scale. We propose a general equilibrium model of industry dynamics that features nonhomothetic production functions compatible with this mechanism. Estimating this production function, we identify the nonhomotheticity of IT demand and find an elasticity of substitution between IT and non- IT inputs that falls below unity. Under the estimated model parameters, the cross-sectional predictions of the model match the observed relationship of firm size with IT intensity (positive) and labor share (negative). In addition, in response to the fall in the relative price of IT inputs in post-1990 France, the model explains about half of both the observed rise in market concentration and the market reallocations toward low-labor-share firms.
    Keywords: information technology, labor share, competition, production function, nonhomotheticity.
    JEL: E10 E23 E25
    Date: 2020
  9. By: Ryo Kato; Tatsushi Okuda; Takayuki Tsuruga
    Abstract: Previous studies have stressed that inflation dynamics exhibit substantial dispersion across sectors. Using US producer price data, we present evidence that sectoral inflation persistence is negatively correlated with market concentration, which is difficult to reconcile with the prediction of the standard model of monopolistic competition. To better explain the data, we incorporate imperfect common knowledge into the monopolistic competition model introduced by Melitz and Ottaviano (2008). In the model, pricing complementarity among firms increases as market concentration decreases. Because higher pricing complementarity generates greater inflation persistence, our model successfully replicates the observed negative correlation between inflation persistence and market concentration across sectors.
    Date: 2021–10
  10. By: Heiko Karle; Heiner Schumacher; Rune Vølund
    Abstract: We consider the Salop (1979) model of product differentiation and assume that consumers are uncertain about the qualities and prices of firms’ products. They can inspect all products at zero cost. A share of consumers is expectation-based loss averse. For these consumers, a purchase plan, which involves buying products of varying quality and price with positive probability, creates disutility from gain-loss sensations. Even at modest degrees of loss aversion they may refrain from inspecting all products and choose an individual default that is strictly dominated in terms of surplus. Firms’ strategic behavior exacerbates the scope for this effect. The model generates “scale-dependent psychological switching costs” that increase in the value of the transaction. We find empirical evidence for the predicted association between switching behavior and loss aversion in new survey data.
    Keywords: switching costs, competition, loss aversion
    JEL: D21 D83 L41
    Date: 2021
  11. By: Kurt R. Brekke (Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)); Luigi Siciliani (Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, Heslington); Odd Rune Straume (Department of Economics/NIPE, University of Minho)
    Abstract: Integration of health care services has been promoted in several countries to improve the quality and coordination of care. We investigate the effects of such integration in a model where providers compete on quality to attract patients under regulated prices. We identify circumstances under which integration either increases or reduces the quality of services provided. In the absence of synergies related to costs or benefits, integration generally leads to increases in quality for some services and reductions for others. The corresponding effect on health benefits depends largely on whether integration leads to quality dispersion or convergence across services.
    Keywords: Integrated care, quality, competition, health care.
    JEL: I11 L12 L13
    Date: 2021
  12. By: A. BAUER (Insee - Crest); J. BOUSSARD (Commission européenne - Crest)
    Abstract: Secular trends in market power and labor share have important implications for inequality and allocative efficiency. Studying them requires comprehensive and detailed firm-level data spanning several decades. For that purpose, we leverage a novel and detailed database on the universe of French firms between 1984 and 2016, that we use to document a rise in concentration in France since the beginning of the 1990s. Despite a relative stability of the aggregate labor share, we show that firms with lower labor shares have been gaining market shares. As low labor share firms also tend to be larger, this market share reallocation has been stronger in industries where concentration increased the most. We rely on markups as proxies of firm-level market power, and on a flexible production function that allows the identification of firm-specific output elasticities and markups. We find that the markup of the typical firm has decreased, but the reallocation of market shares toward larger firms contributed to an increase of the aggregate markup. Finally, we show how taking into account reallocation across firms is essential to understand how the aggregate market power evolution has shaped the dynamics of the aggregate labor share in France.
    Keywords: Labor share, markup, competition, production function
    JEL: E10 E23 E25
    Date: 2020
  13. By: P. AGHION (Collège de France, LSE et PSE); A. BERGEAUD (Banque de France et CEP); M. LEQUIEN (Insee, Banque de France et PSE); M.J. (Harvard et NBER)
    Abstract: We analyze how demand conditions faced by a firm in its export markets impact its innovation decisions. To disentangle the direction of causality between export demand and innovation, we construct a firm-level export demand shock which responds to aggregate conditions in a firm's export destinations but is exogenous to firm-level decisions. Using exhaustive data covering the French manufacturing sector, we show that French firms respond to exogenous growth shocks in their export destinations by patenting more; and that this response is entirely driven by the subset of initially more productive firms. The patent response arises 2 to 5 years after a demand shock, highlighting the time required to innovate. In contrast, the demand shock raises contemporaneous sales and employment for all firms, without any notable differences between high and low productivity firms. We show that this finding of a skewed innovation response to common demand shocks arises naturally from a model of endogenous innovation and competition with firm heterogeneity. The market size increase drives all firms to innovate more by increasing the innovation rents; yet by inducing more entry and thus more competition, it also discourages innovation by low productivity firms.
    Keywords: Innovation, export, demand shocks, patents
    JEL: D21 F13 F14 F41 O30 O47
    Date: 2020
  14. By: Stephanie Assad (Unknown); Emilio Calvano (Unknown); Giacomo Calzolari (Unknown); Robert Clark (Unknown); Vincenzo Denicolo (Unknown); Daniel Ershov (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Justin Pappas Johnson (Unknown); Sergio Pastorello (Unknown); Andrew Rhodes (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Lei Xu (Unknown); Matthijs Wildenbeest (Unknown)
    Abstract: Markets are being populated with new generations of pricing algorithms, powered with Artificial Intelligence, that have the ability to autonomously learn to operate. This ability can be both a source of efficiency and cause of concern for the risk that algorithms autonomously and tacitly learn to collude. In this paper we explore recent developments in the economic literature and discuss implications for policy.
    Keywords: Platforms.,Algorithmic Pricing,Antitrust,Competition Policy,Artificial Intelligence,Collusion
    Date: 2021–09
  15. By: Yanyou Chen (University of Toronto, Department of Economics, Max Gluskin House, 150 St. George Street, 310, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 2E9)
    Abstract: This project evaluates the optimal transport network in North America by first analyzing the proposed $25 billion merger between the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Kansas City Southern Railway. Then this project studies different sequences of mergers and find the optimal path of mergers to form the transport network in North America. Current simulation results suggest that average over all origin-destination markets, the proposed merger between Canadian Pacific Railway and the Kansas City Southern Railway will decrease the average shipment cost by 6.27%. Among different local markets, regions near or utilize the route from Des Moines, IA -- Kansas City, MO -- Joplin, MO will have the largest efficiency gain from the proposed merger.
    Keywords: Merger; Transport Network; Railroad
    JEL: L13 L43 L92
    Date: 2021–09
  16. By: Lindgren, Charlie (Dalarna University, 791 88 Falun, Sweden); Li, Yujiao (Dalarna University, 791 88 Falun, Sweden); Rudholm, Niklas (Institute of Retail Economics (Handelns Forskningsinstitut))
    Abstract: This paper investigates how firm entry into a price comparison website marketplace affects firm productivity, profits, and wages. We want to answer the key research question: Why do firms compete on price comparison websites? A substantial literature indicates that competition in such marketplaces is fierce, leading to lower prices for products sold. We suggest that participation in these marketplaces also leads to increased productivity, i.e., output increases when holding constant the level of inputs used. This leads to increased profits, motivating firms to enter price comparison websites despite fierce competition. Our results indicate that for the full sample of firms, PriceSpy participation increases output by almost 12% when holding the level of inputs constant. Also, investigation of who gains from the increased productivity shows that, for entering firms, operating profits increase by 9% and gross wages by 14% when studying the full sample of firms. That labor gains more from PriceSpy participation is even clearer when studying the impact on wholesale and retail firms separately. For those firms, gross wages increased by 16–17% after entry, while no statistically significant impact was found regarding operating profits.
    Keywords: Online retailing; e-commerce; price comparison websites; productivity; value added.
    JEL: D22 D24 D33 L81
    Date: 2020–09–01
  17. By: Sarit Markovich (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA); Yaron Yehezkel (Coller School of Management, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel)
    Abstract: We consider a platform that collects data from users. Data has commercial benefit to the platform, personal benefit to the user, and public benefit to other users. We ask whether the platform, or users, should have the right to decide which data the platform commercializes. We find that when users differ in their disutility from the commercialization of their data and the public benefit of data is high (low), it is welfare enhancing to let the platform (users) control the data. In contrast, when heterogeneity is in the disutility from the commercialization of different data items, it is welfare enhancing to let users (the platform) control the data when the public benefit of data is high (low). Furthermore, we find that allowing the platform to compensate users for their data is not always welfare enhancing and competition does not necessarily result in the efficient outcome.
    Keywords: data regulation, network externalities, platform competition
    JEL: L1
    Date: 2021–09
  18. By: Ciani, Andrea (European Commission); Mau, Karsten (Maastricht University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the role of timely delivery in international competition. Using a demand-side, industry-specific measure of time-sensitivity, we assess the effect of Chinese competition on the export performance of Eastern European transition economies into Western European (EU15) destination-product markets. Our empirical analysis relies on exploiting the increase of Chinese competition in global markets during the first decade of the 2000s. We find evidence of heterogeneous adjustments to Chinese competition among Eastern European exporters due to the differential importance of timely delivery across sectors (i.e. timesensitivity). While we observe sizable real displacement effects, they appear to be at least 50 percent smaller for time-sensitive exports. Relying on firm-level customs data, we establish that this mechanism also plays a role for responses to Chinese competition within firms.
    Keywords: Time sensitivity, International Competition, China
    JEL: F14 F15 F61 L25
    Date: 2021–08
  19. By: Elhanan Helpman; Benjamin C. Niswonger
    Abstract: We develop a model of large multinational enterprises, each one producing a continuum of products. These outsized firms compete as oligopolists in a domestic and foreign market, facing competitive pressure from single-product firms that engage in monopolistic competition. The multinational enterprises invest in R&D in order to expand the span of their products and in foreign direct investment (FDI) in order to expand the range of products manufactured by their foreign affiliates. We study the dynamic evolution of these markets and characterize transition dynamics and steady states. In addition to the evolution of product spans, we characterize the evolution of prices, markups, market shares, and exports relative to subsidiary sales. Furthermore, we study comparative dynamics that result from changes in trade costs, R&D costs, the cost of FDI and productivity changes of the multinational firms.
    JEL: D43 F12 F23 L11 L13 L25
    Date: 2021–10
  20. By: Jay Hyun; Ziho Park; Vladimir Smirnyagin
    Abstract: Using administrative data on U.S. multisector firms, we document a cross-sectoral propagation of the import competition from China (“China shock”) through firms’ internal networks: Employment of an establishment in a given industry is negatively affected by China shock that hits establishments in other industries within the same firm. This indirect propagation channel impacts both manufacturing and non-manufacturing establishments, and it operates primarily through the establishment exit. We explore a range of explanations for our findings, highlighting the role of within-firm trade across sectors, scope of production, and establishment size. At the sectoral aggregate level, China shock that propagates through firms’ internal networks has a sizable impact on industry-level employment dynamics.
    Keywords: China shock, import competition, multisector firms, multiproduct firms, network propagation, trade
    JEL: D22 F14 F40
    Date: 2021–09
  21. By: Yao (Alex) Yao (San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA 92108, USA); Sha Yang (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90007, USA); K. Sudhir (Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA)
    Abstract: Many fashion companies strategically choose publishers for advertising to target preferred consumers, because such consumers not only generate revenue, they also influence the companies’ brand image. Meanwhile, publishers also select companies because the ads posted by companies affect publishers’ image as well. It is important to jointly model the preferences of firms and publishers in this scenario, because observed advertising is an outcome of mutual selection from both sides. We develop a two-sided matching framework to model advertising as realized from such a two-sided selection process. The preference of a third party (consumers) is embedded in this framework through a consumer product choice model. Applying the proposed model to two unique datasets of fashion brand purchases, magazine readership, and advertising record, we are able to detect magazines and watch brands’ preferences separately. More expensive magazines also prefer more luxurious fashion watch brands. Watch brands prefer magazines with a potential consumer network with more male, well-educated and wealthy readers. Advertising effect is more prominent in terms of consumers’ awareness set formation compared to the brand purchase persuasion in general, but Asian brands can benefit more from advertising at the brand choice stage instead of the awareness formation stage.
    Keywords: fashion market, publishers, two-sided matching, consumer network
    JEL: M30 L10 D12
    Date: 2021–07
  22. By: Kyle Fee; Erik Tiersten-Nyman
    Abstract: The consolidation that took place in the banking industry during the 2000s and 2010s led to an increase in the total number of bank branches per institution and resulted in a larger number of branches to meet customers’ banking needs.
    Keywords: banks; branch; consolidation
    Date: 2021–10–06
  23. By: Finn Christensen (Department of Economics, Towson University)
    Abstract: I exploit the removal of Warner Music content from YouTube in the first three quarters of 2009 as a plausible natural experiment to investigate the impact of streaming on live concert sales. I find that this Warner-YouTube blackout had statistically and economically negative effects on Warner artists relative to non-Warner artists. Specifically, relative revenues and prices were lower and relative attendance was not higher. These effects were stronger among artists who recently had a song in the Billboard Hot 100 and among those who were more frequently searched on YouTube. These findings suggest that the diffusion of streaming has stimulated the demand for live concerts. The evidence is also consistent with a differentiated Bertrand model of ticket pricing in which prices are strategic complements and prices and streaming penetration gives rise to increasing differences in the artist profit function. More broadly, the paper is an example of how the results from the monotone comparative statics literature can be adapted for use with difference-in-differences estimation.
    Keywords: Live music, streaming, digitization, monotone comparative statics, refutability.
    JEL: D2 L2 L8 Z11
    Date: 2021–01

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