Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Statistics on Modern Private International Cartels, 1990-2005

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

After receiving a number of inquiries about a post earlier this week, I am following up with posting on a new working by John Connor on cartels.  Connor has increased our understanding of international cartels probably more than any other scholar.  His latest working paper is Statistics on Modern Private International Cartels, 1990-2005 with colleague Gustav Helmers, which has important implications for both scholars and enforcers.

ABSTRACT: This report explains the principal economic and legal features of a unique set of data on 283 modern private international cartels discovered anywhere in the world from January 1990 to the end of 2005. Measured in real 2005 money, aggregate cartel sales and overcharges totaled about $1.2 trillion and $500 billion, respectively. In the early 2000s, about 35 such cartels were discovered each year. We find that global cartels comprise more than half of the sample's affected sales and are larger, longer lasting, and more injurious than other types. In the early 2000s world-wide corporate penalties stabilized at or above $2 billion per year, one-thousand times penalties in the early 1990s. More than 40% of those penalties were from settlements in private suits, and most of the rest are fines imposed by U.S. and EU antitrust authorities.

Median penalties are low: from 1.4% to 4.9% of affected sales, depending on the type of prosecution. As a proportion of damages, median fines ranged from less than 1% for EU-wide cartels to 17.6% for Canada. Private plaintiffs obtained 38% of damages from international cartelists. World wide, median real cartel penalties of all types amounted to about 20% of overcharges.

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