Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Competition Among Spatially Differentiated Firms: An Empirical Model with an Application to Cement

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Nathan H. Miller and Matthew Osborne (both DOJ Antitrust) have posted an interesting paper on Competition Among Spatially Differentiated Firms: An Empirical Model with an Application to Cement.

ABSTRACT: The theoretical literature of industrial organization shows that the distances between consumers and firms have first-order implications for competitive outcomes whenever transportation costs are large. To assess these effects empirically, we develop a structural model of competition among spatially differentiated firms and introduce a GMM estimator that recovers the structural parameters with only regional-level data. We apply the model and estimator to the portland cement industry. The estimation fits, both in-sample and out-of-sample, demonstrate that the framework explains well the salient features of competition. We estimate transportation costs to be $0.30 per tonne-mile, given diesel prices at the 2000 level, and show that these costs constrain shipping distances and provide firms with localized market power. To demonstrate policy-relevance, we conduct counter-factual simulations that quantify competitive harm from a hypothetical merger. We are able to map the distribution of harm over geographic space and identify the divestiture that best mitigates harm.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/2010/05/competition-among-spatially-differentiated-firms-an-empirical-model-with-an-application-to-cement.html

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