Implications of the Bertrand Model

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In 1893 French economist Joseph Bertrand developed his Bertrand model of competition from his review of Antoine Cournots study of a Spring Water duopoly. His criticism lay with how firms in oligopolies compete. In his model firms compete with prices rather than Cornots quantities. (REFERENCE TO SPANISH JOURNAL) The model consists of two firms who set prices simultaneously and independently (HUGH GRAVIELLE AND AY REES, MICROECONOMICES), jean tiral explains this as when one firm sets its price it is ignorant to its rival’s price, rather it “anticipates” what they will charge. It is assumed products are homogeneous and perfect substitutes (ECCSTRAT) and due to the nature of the product the firm supplying output at the lowest price will gain…show more content…
The two firms generated low profit, as Bertrand competition predicts, until GE ‘changed the rules of the game’ by introducing a price book. The process effectively set a higher market price and guaranteed higher profits, the price publishing behaviour continued successfully until 1975 when the US Department of Justice investigated the industry. Price books were ruled to breach anti-competition laws and the firms were fined. The book, Technology and Transformation in the American Electric Utility Industry by Richard F. Hirsh goes into this example in much greater depth. This is an important example as it demonstrates that Bertrand competition can exist in the real world. However the assumption of zero profits, or in the example, low profits encourages companies to collude to set higher prices and make positive profits. The Bertrand model also assumes that with the entrant of a second firm into the market, and the subsequent Nash equilibrium, price equal to marginal cost, removes the need for policy makers to intervene. However form the previous example this is obviously false as policy makers did have to intervene and sanctions were made. To stress this point, another example; Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet moved powers of oil price fixation to the Oil Companies Advisory Committee in 2001, through flawed polices profits of the duopolists Pakistan State Oil and Shell
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