Commodity market dynamics and the Joint Executive Committee (1880-1886)

Franco Mariuzzo, Patrick Paul Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Using weekly spot and future commodity prices in Chicago and New York, we construct expected transportation rates for grain between these two cities, expected inventory levels in New York, and realized errors in the expectations of such variables. We incorporate these exogenous commodity market dynamics into Porter’s (1983) structural modeling of the Joint Executive Committee Railroad Cartel. As in Porter, we model marginal cost as a parametric function of (instrumented) output, among other factors. Unlike Porter, we model pricing over marginal cost as a nonparametric function of a set of variables, which include expectations of deterministic demand cycles and cartel stability. We estimate the pricing and demand equation simultaneously and semiparametrically. Our estimated weekly markups during periods of cartel stability are shown to reflect optimal collusive pricing over deterministic business cycles, as modeled in Haltiwanger and Harrington (1991). Periods of cartel instability are proven to be triggered by realized mistakes in expectations of New York grain prices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1722-1739
Number of pages18
JournalThe Review of Economics and Statistics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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