nep-mic New Economics Papers
on Microeconomics
Issue of 2006‒08‒12
twenty-two papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. Regulation of Natural Monopolies By Paul L. Joskow
  2. Forward trading and collusion in oligopoly By Matti Liski; Juan-Pablo Montero
  3. Speed of innovation in high technology firms: geographic and organizational strategies By E. Echeverri-Carroll; L. Hunnicutt
  4. A note on price-taking and price-making behaviours in general equilibrium oligopoly models By Ludovic Julien; Fabrice Tricou
  6. One boss or many? Decision making and coordination in the multi-plant firm By L. Hunnicutt
  7. Incentives to advertise: too strong, too weak, or just right? By L. Hunnicutt; L. Israelsen
  8. Do optimal non-renewable resource tariffs suffer from dynamic inconsistency? By K. Lyon; D. Lee
  9. Mixups in the warehouse centralization and decentralization in the multi-plant firm By L. Hunnicutt
  10. Existence of Equilibrium in Common Agency Games with Adverse Selection By Carmona, Guilherme; Fajardo, Jose
  11. Implementing Arrow-Debreu equilibria by trading infinitely lived securities By K. Huang; Z. Liu
  12. On the Existence of Pure Strategy Nash Equilibria in Large Games By Carmona, Guilherme
  14. Welfare-enhancing collusion in the presence of a competitive fringe By Juan-Pablo Montero; Juan Ignacio Guzmán
  15. A Residential Energy Demand System for Spain By Xavier Labandeira; José M. Labeaga; Miguel Rodríguez
  16. Product Market Regulation and Endogenous Union Formation By Monique Ebell; Christian Haefke
  17. Staggered contracts and business cycle persistence By K. Huang; Z. Liu
  18. Market power in a storable-good market - Theory and applications to carbon and sulfur trading By Matti Liski; Juan-Pablo Montero
  19. Does Competition Reduce Costs? Assessing the Impact of Regulatory Restructuring on U.S. Electric Generation Efficiency By Nancy L. Rose; Kira Markiewicz; Catherine Wolfram
  20. Using Micro Data to Estimate the Intertemporal Substitution Elasticity for Labor Supply in an Implicit Contract Model By John C. Ham; Kevin T. Reilly
  22. Horizontal versus Vertical Electronic Business-to-Business Marketplaces By Marco Henseler

  1. By: Paul L. Joskow
    Abstract: This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the theoretical and empirical literature on the regulation of natural monopolies. It covers alternative definitions of natural monopoly, regulatory goals, alternative regulatory institutions, price regulation with full information, regulation with imperfect and asymmetric information, and topics on the measurement of the effects of price and entry regulation in practice. The chapter also discusses the literature on network access and pricing to support the introduction of competition into previously regulated monopoly industries.
    Date: 2005–04
  2. By: Matti Liski; Juan-Pablo Montero
    Abstract: We consider an infinitely-repeated oligopoly in which at each period firms not only serve the spot market by either competing in prices or quantities but also have the opportunity to trade forward contracts. Contrary to the pro-competitive results of finite-horizon models, we find that the possibility of forward trading allows firms to sustain collusive profits that otherwise would not be possible. The result holds both for price and quantity competition and follows because (collusive) contracting of future sales is more effective in deterring deviations from the collusive plan than in inducing the previously identified pro-competitive effects.
    Date: 2005–03
  3. By: E. Echeverri-Carroll; L. Hunnicutt
    Abstract: Competition in high technology is increasingly based on rapid innovation. But what conditions quicken innovation? Some suggest innovation is faster in firms with many related organizations located nearby. Others propose relationships with customers and suppliers as key factors in rapid innovation. We attempt to differentiate between these hypotheses. We find that local amenities determine firm location, but not innovation speed. Instead relationships with suppliers and customers are the main determinants of innovation speed.
  4. By: Ludovic Julien (EconomiX - [CNRS : UMR7166] - [Université de Paris X - Nanterre]); Fabrice Tricou (EconomiX - [CNRS : UMR7166] - [Université de Paris X - Nanterre])
    Abstract: This paper explores the rationale of price-taking and price-making behaviours in the context of Walrasian and Cournotian pure exchange economies. Beside the influence of the number of agents, we underline the role of the structure of preferences. Through three equilibrium variations of the same basic economy, we obtain several results about price manipulation, about asymptotic identifications for large economies and for degenerate preferences, and about welfare comparisons. Perfect competition does not only correspond to the case of large economies, but may also concern economies where market powers are more or less equivalent.
    Keywords: Cournot-Walras equilibria, oligopoly, perfect competition
    Date: 2006–07–28
  5. By: Paul L Joskow
    Abstract: Over the last twenty years several network industries that evolved historically as either private or state-owned regulated vertically integrated monopolies have been privatized, restructured, and some vertical segments deregulated. These industries include telecommunications, natural gas, electric power, and railroads. The reform program typically involves the vertical separation (ownership or functional) of potentially competitive segments, which are gradually deregulated, from remaining vertical segments that are assumed to have natural monopoly characteristics and continue to be subject to price, network access, service quality and entry regulations. In several countries, an important part of the reform agenda has included the introduction of “incentive regulation” mechanisms for the remaining regulated segments as an alternative to traditional “cost of service” or “rate of return” regulation. The expectation was that incentive regulation mechanisms would provide more powerful incentives for regulated firms to reduce costs, improve service quality in a cost effective way, stimulate (or at least not impede) the introduction of new products and services, and stimulate efficient investment in and pricing of access to regulated infrastructure services.
    Date: 2005–09
  6. By: L. Hunnicutt
    Abstract: Multi-plant organizations have trouble including both local and global information in their decisions. Outlets know local conditions but headquarters is able to coordinate outlets. In allocating decision-making power, firms must balance coordination and flexibility. I model this tradeoff, and show that the decentralized firm may standardize to avoid costs due to miscoordination. That is, increasingly variable local conditions cause ecentralized choices to become less variable. Ex ante, decentralization is more profitable; neither form dominates ex post. Signals from outlets to headquarters improve the performance of the centralized firm, but one can always find conditions under which decentralization is preferred.
    Keywords: decentralization, information, multi-plant firms
    JEL: L23 D21
  7. By: L. Hunnicutt; L. Israelsen
    Abstract: There is some debate about whether firms advertise too much or too little. We present a simple model to examine the incentives of a firm to advertise, and distinguish between the market expansion effects and business stealing effects of advertising. When products are homogeneous, firms advertise too little relative to the amount that would maximize total industry profits. In differentiated products markets, the possibility of stealing customers from competitors causes firms to advertise too much. Finally, we derive conditions that determine when an expansion in one firm’s advertising level increases rival advertising.
  8. By: K. Lyon; D. Lee
    Abstract: In this paper we have examined optimal tariffs for non-renewable natural resources in the setting of imperfect competition. We do this because Larry Karp (1984, p. 74) states that, “If the buyer attempts to exert market power, he is constrained by the dynamic optimization behavior of the seller and does not face a standard control problem.” We show that when extraction costs are a function of the remaining stock of the resource, the costate variable can be separated into a scarcity effect and a cost effect. Karp concludes that the cost effect must be left with the producer; thereby, restricting the actions of the buyer. We, however, prove that it is not necessary to pay this cost effect to the producer; hence, we conclude that the monopsonist can extract all of the rent from the seller. The optimal tariff is neither dynamically time inconsistent, nor is it “Karp’s consistent tariff.”
    Keywords: Optimal control problem, optimal non-renewable resource tariff, dynamic inconsistency, imperfect competition, scarcity and cost effect
    JEL: H21 L20 Q30
  9. By: L. Hunnicutt
    Abstract: Single-plant firms choose quantity/quality levels to maximize profits. Multi-plant firms face this decision and must also choose how many decision makers to have. This paper presents two case studies and a model of a multi-plant firm in which overhead costs are lower with one decision-maker (centralization), but the mass of information and the need for timely decisions make occasional mixups unavaoidable. Multiple decision makers (decentralization) solves the mixup problem. Standardization—treating different outlets similarly in response to costly mixups—appears in the case studies, and is demonstrated as a result in the model.
    JEL: D21 L23
  10. By: Carmona, Guilherme; Fajardo, Jose
    Abstract: We establish the existence of sequential equilibria in general menu games, known to be su±cient to analyze common agency problems. In particular, we show that our result solves some unpleasant features of early approaches.
    Date: 2006
  11. By: K. Huang; Z. Liu
    Abstract: We show that Arrow-Debreu equilibria with countably additive prices in infinite-time economy under uncertainty can be implemented by trading infinitely-lived securities in complete sequential markets under two different portfolio feasibility constraints: wealth constraint, and essentially bounded portfolios. Sequential equilibria with no price bubbles implement Arrow-Debreu equilibria, while those with price bubbles implement Arrow-Debreu equilibria with transfers. Transfers are equal to the value of price bubbles on initial portfolio holdings. Price bubbles may arise in sequential equilibrium under the wealth constraint, but with essentially bounded portfolios.
    Keywords: Arrow-Debreu equilibrium, security markets equilibrium, price bubbles, transfers
  12. By: Carmona, Guilherme
    Abstract: Over the years, several formalizations of games with a continuum of players have been given. These include those of Schmeidler (1973), Mas-Colell (1984) and Khan and Sun (1999). Unlike the others, Khan and Sun (1999) also addressed the equilibrium problem of large ¯- nite games, establishing the existence of a pure strategy approximate equilibrium in su±ciently large games. This ability for their formal- ization to yield asymptotic results led them to argue for it as the right approach to games with a continuum of players. We challenge this view by establishing an equivalent asymptotic theorem based only on Mas-Colell's formalization. Furthermore, we show that it is equivalent to Mas-Colell's existence theorem. Thus, in contrast to Khan and Sun (1999), we conclude that Mas-Colell's for- malization is as good as theirs for the development of the equilibrium theory of large ¯nite games.
    Date: 2006
  13. By: Paul L. Joskow
    Abstract: Evidence from the U.S. and some other countries indicates that organized wholesale markets for electrical energy and operating reserves do not provide adequate incentives to stimulate the proper quantity or mix of generating capacity consistent with mandatory reliability criteria. A large part of the problem can be associated with the failure of wholesale spot market prices for energy and operating reserves to rise to high enough levels during periods when generating capacity is fully utilized. Reforms to wholesale energy markets, the introduction of well-design forward capacity markets, and symmetrical treatment of demand response and generating capacity resources to respond to market and institutional imperfections are discussed. This policy reform program is compatible with improving the efficiency of spot wholesale electricity markets, the continued evolution of competitive retail markets, and restores incentives for efficient investment in generating capacity consistent with operating reliability criteria applied by system operators. It also responds to investment disincentives that have been associated with volatility in wholesale energy prices, limited hedging opportunities and to concerns about regulatory opportunism.
    Date: 2006–04
  14. By: Juan-Pablo Montero; Juan Ignacio Guzmán
    Abstract: Following the structure of many commodity markets, we consider a reduced number of large firms and a competitive fringe of many small suppliers choosing quantities in an infinitehorizon setting subject to demand shocks. We show that a collusive agreement among the large firms may not only bring an output contraction but also an output expansion (relative to the non-collusive output level). The latter occurs during booms, when the fringe’s market share is more important, and is due to the strategic substitutability of quantities (we will never observe an output-expanding collusion in a price-setting game). In addition and depending on the fringe’s market share the time at which collusion is most difficult to sustain can be either at booms or recessions.
    Date: 2005–08
  15. By: Xavier Labandeira; José M. Labeaga; Miguel Rodríguez
    Abstract: Sharp price fluctuations and increasing environmental and distributional concerns, among other issues, have led to a renewed academic interest in energy demand. In this paper we estimate, for the first time in Spain, an energy demand system with household microdata. In doing so, we tackle several econometric and data problems that are generally recognized to bias parameter estimates. This is obviously relevant, as obtaining correct price and income responses is essential if they may be used for assessing the economic consequences of hypothetical or real changes. With this objective, we combine data sources for a long time period and choose a demand system with flexible income and price responses. We also estimate the model in different sub-samples to capture varying responses to energy price changes by households living in rural, intermediate and urban areas. This constitutes a first attempt in the literature and it proved to be a very successful choice.
    Date: 2005–02
  16. By: Monique Ebell (Humboldt University of Berlin); Christian Haefke (Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Instituto de Análisis Económico, CSIC and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: We contribute to the growing literature which aims to link product market regulation and competition to labor market outcomes, in an attempt to explain the divergent US and continental European labor market performance over the past two decades. The main contributions of this paper are threefold. First, we show that the choice of bargaining regime is crucial for the effect of product market competition on unemployment rates, being substantial under collective bargaining and considerably more modest under individual bargaining. Since the choice of bargaining institution is so important, we endogenize it. We find that the bargaining regime which emerges endogenously depends crucially on the degree of product market competition. When product market competition is low, collective bargaining is stable, while individual bargaining emerges as the stable institution under high degrees of product market competition. This also allows us to link product market competition and collective bargaining coverage rates. Our results suggest that the strong decline in collective bargaining coverage and unionization in the US and UK over the last two decades might have been a direct consequence of the Reagan/Thatcher product market reforms of the early 80’s. Finally, we calibrate the model to assess the quantitative magnitude of our results. We find that moving from the US low regulation-individual bargaining economy to the EU high regulation-collective bargaining economy leads to a substantial increase in equilibrium unemployment rates from 5.5% to 8.9 % in the model economy.
    Keywords: product market competition, European Unemployment Puzzle, overhiring, wage bargaining
    JEL: E24 J63 L16
    Date: 2006–07
  17. By: K. Huang; Z. Liu
    Abstract: Staggered price and staggered wage contracts are commonly viewed as similar mechanisms in generating persistent real effects of monetary shocks. In this paper, we distinguish the two mechanisms in a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium framework. We show that, although the dynamic price setting and wage setting equations are alike, a key parameter governing persistence is linked to the underlying preferences and technologies in different ways. Under the staggered wage mechanism, an intertemporal smoothing incentive in labor supply creates a real rigidity that is absent under the staggered price mechanism. Consequently, the two mechanisms have different implications on persistence. While the staggered price mechanism by itself does not contribute to, the staggered wage mechanism plays an important role in generating persistence.
    Keywords: Staggered contracts, business cycle persistence, monetary policy
    JEL: E24 E32 E52
  18. By: Matti Liski; Juan-Pablo Montero
    Abstract: We consider a market for storable pollution permits in which a large agent and a fringe of small agents gradually consume a stock of permits until they reach a long-run emissions limit. The subgame-perfect equilibrium exhibits no market power unless the large agent’s share of the initial stock of permits exceeds a critical level. We then apply our theoretical results to a global market for carbon dioxide emissions and the existing US market for sulfur dioxide emissions. We characterize competitive permit allocation profiles for the carbon market and find no evidence of market power in the sulfur market.
    Date: 2005–11
  19. By: Nancy L. Rose; Kira Markiewicz; Catherine Wolfram
    Abstract: Although the allocative efficiency benefits of competition are a tenet of microeconomic theory, the relation between competition and technical efficiency is less well understood. Neoclassical models of profit-maximization subsume static cost-minimizing behavior regardless of market competitiveness, but agency models of managerial behavior suggest possible scope for competition to influence cost-reducing effort choices. This paper explores the empirical effects of competition on technical efficiency in the context of electricity industry restructuring. Restructuring programs adopted by many U.S. states made utilities residual claimants to cost savings and increased their exposure to competitive markets. We estimate the impact of these changes on annual generating plant-level input demand for non-fuel operating expenses, the number of employees and fuel use. We find that municipally-owned plants, whose owners were for the most part unaffected by restructuring, experienced the smallest efficiency gains over the past decade. Investor-owned utility plants in states that restructured their wholesale electricity markets had the largest reductions in nonfuel operating expenses and employment, while investorowned plants in nonrestructuring states fell between these extremes. The analysis also highlights the substantive importance of treating the simultaneity of input and output decisions, which we do through an instrumental variables approach.
    Date: 2004–11
  20. By: John C. Ham; Kevin T. Reilly
    Abstract: Economists have devoted substantial resources to estimating the intertemporal substitution elasticity for labor supply because this elasticity plays a crucial role in the real business cycle literature. Generally, the estimates of the elasticity have been too low to explain business cycles. Economists have responded by trying to modify real business cycle models to allow for smaller elasticities, but they have experienced mixed success at best. However, the standard intertemporal substitution model has not done well when tested, and if this model is incorrect, so will be the estimated labor supply elasticities based upon it. An equilibrium alternative to the standard intertemporal labor supply model is the implicit contract model. In this latter model firms and workers bargain over state-contingent contracts denominated in terms of consumption and hours of work. Further, the price of leisure is the marginal product of labor or the shadow wage, which differs from the observed wage. A number of studies have found that the data are compatible with an implicit contract model; in particular in Ham and Reilly (2002) we found that we could reject a separable (within period) implicit contract model but not a non-separable one. If an implicit contract model is appropriate, this is the context in which we should try to estimate the intertemporal labor supply elasticity. However this estimation is potentially quite difficult with micro data since the shadow wage (marginal product of labor) is unobserved. In this paper we first develop a procedure that allows one to estimate the intertemporal substitution elasticity in an implicit contract model from micro data. We then implement this procedure using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES). We obtain statistically significant elasticities of 0.9 with the PSID and 1.0 with the CES. The consistency of the estimate across the data sets is impressive given that we use different estimation approaches (micro data versus synthetic cohorts) and different consumption measures (food consumption versus total nondurable consumption) in the two data sets. These results are three times larger than existing estimates based on the standard intertemporal supply elasticity from this data set and thus offer more hope that equilibrium perspectives on the labor market are capable of tracking the data. Given that the implicit contract model is less likely to be rejected than the standard model in our work and other research, we believe that our approach should prove to be quite useful.
    JEL: E30 J22 J60
    Date: 2006–07
  21. By: Paul L. Joskow
    Abstract: The transition to competitive wholesale and retail markets for electricity in the U.S. has been a difficult and contentious process. This paper examines the progress that has been made in the evolution of wholesale and retail electricity market institutions. Various indicia of the performance of these market institutions are presented and discussed. Significant progress has been made on the wholesale competition front but major challenges must still be confronted. The framework for supporting retail competition has been less successful, especially for small customers. Empirical evidence suggests that well-designed competitive market reforms have led to performance improvements in a number of dimensions and have benefited customers through lower retail prices.
    Date: 2005–08
  22. By: Marco Henseler (Institute of Economics and Law, Department of Microeconomics and Spatial Economics, University of Stuttgart)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the behavior of horizontal B2B marketplaces along the supply chain in case a vertical intermediary tries to enter by attracting industry-specific buy-side and sell-side firms. It will be shown that an entrant can only integrate all firms along the vertical production chain in case the industry is strong buy-side dominated. For the remaining scenarios we will determine different levels of integration for buy-side and sell-side dominated branches, in which firms from upper stages will stay at the incumbent. Moreover, we will show that horizontal marketplaces for MRO and other simple goods will being driven out of the market in any case.
    Keywords: intermediation, matching, two-sided markets
    JEL: C78 L13 L22 L86
    Date: 2006–07–06

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