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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 12, No. 1, May 1990, pp. 127-148

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Limit Pricing by Noncooperative Oligopolists (Written in Korean)


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A Milgrom-Roberts style signalling model of limit pricing is developed to analyze the possibility and the scope of limit pricing in general, noncooperative oligopolies. The model contains multiple incumbent firms facing a potential entrant and assumes an information asymmetry between incumbents and the potential entrant about the market demand. There are two periods in the model. In period 1, n incumbent firms simultaneously and noncooperatively choose quantities. At the end of period 1, the potential entrant observes the market price and makes an entry decision. In period 2, depending on the entry decision of the entrant, n or (n+1) firms choose quantities again before the game terminates. Since the choice of incumbent firms in period 1 depends on their information about demand, the market price in period 1 conveys information about the market demand. Thus, there is a systematic link between the market price and the profitability of entry. Using Bayes-Nash equilibrium as the solution concept, we find that there exist some demand conditions under which incumbent firms will limit price. In symmetric equilibria, incumbent firms each produce an output that is greater than the Cournot output and induce a price that is below the Cournot price. In doing so、each incumbent firm refrains from maximizing short-run profit and supplies a public good that is entry deterrence. The reason that entry is deterred by such a reduced price is that it conveys information about the demand of the industry that is unfavorable to the entrant. This establishes the possibility of limit Pricing by noncooperative oligopolists in a setting that is fully rational, and also generalizes the result of Milgrom and Roberts to general oligopolies, confirming Bain's intuition. Limit pricing by incumbents explained above can be inter­preted as a form of credible collusion in which each firm voluntarily deviates from myopic optimization in order to deter entry using their superior information. This type of im­plicit collusion differs from Folk-theorem type collusions in many ways and suggests that a collusion can be a credible one even in finite games as long as there is information asymmetry. Another important result is that as the number of incumbent firms approaches infini­ty, or as the industry approaches a competitive one, the probability that limit pricing occurs converges to zero and the probability of entry converges to that under complete information. This limit result confirms the intuition that as the number of agents sharing the same private information increases, the value of the private information decreases, and the probability that the information gets revealed increases. This limit result also supports the conventional belief that there is no entry problem in a competitive market. Considering the fact that limit pricing is generally believed to occur at an early stage of an industry and the fact that many industries in Korea are oligopolies in their infant stages, the theoretical results of this paper suggest that we should pay attention to the possibility of implicit collusion by incumbent firms aimed at deterring new entry using superior information. The long-term loss to the Korean economy from limit pricing can be very large if the industry in question is a part of the world market and the domestic potential entrant whose entry is deterred could have developed into a competitor in the world market. In this case, the long-term loss to the Korean economy should include the lost opportunity in the world market in addition to the domestic long-run welfare loss.

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