Recidivism Revealed: Private International Cartels 1990-2009

John M. Connor, Nov 05, 2010

The objective of this paper is to look for empirical regularities in the sample of 389 recidivists that engaged in international price-fixing in the past 20 years. Recidivism appears to be increasing rapidly, both in number and relative to all corporate cartelists. Recidivists are overwhelmingly headquartered in northern Europe or Japan, and they tend to be highly diversified multinational firms that sell homogeneous producer goods. The skills acquired from participating in multiple price conspiracies are transferrable across divisional lines at very low marginal costs.  Those acquired skills include identifying feasible collusive opportunities, negotiating mutually satisfactory deals, diplomatically dealing with partners when no enforceable contract exists, and evading detection by the antitrust authorities.