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An economic approach to price fixing

Louis Kaplow, 77 Antitrust Law Journal, 343 -2011.
NB: This article has been nominated by the Academic Steering Committee for the academic category, economics section of the 2012 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here for all winning-awards articles

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Readers vote is closed since March 1st, 2012. Readers’ vote has nominated 2 articles for each of the Awards. This short list has been communicated to the Board, with the articles nominated by the Steering Committees. The Board will decide on the award-winning articles on March 27, at the Awards ceremony to take place in DC. See vote results online here.

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This article examines optimal policy toward coordinated oligopolistic price elevation. First, it analyzes the social welfare implications of enforcement, elaborating the value of deterrence and the nature of possible chilling effects. Then, it explores a variety of means of detection, with particular attention to the sorts of errors that may arise under each. Finally, it examines the level and type of sanctions that should be employed. It emerges that there is remarkably little overlap in content between the present investigation and prior legal policy work on the subject. Some central issues have been ignored while particular resolutions of others have been taken for granted, thereby indicating the need for wholesale reassessment.

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