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Chapter 1. The Classical Cournot Model

In this chapter we will introduce the classical Cournot model, which is also known as the single-product quantity setting oligopoly model without product differentiation. In the first section of the chapter the Cournot model will be discussed as an


-firm static game and the best responses of the firms and the equilibria will be determined in a series of examples, many of which will be built upon in developing the ideas in subsequent chapters. Section 1.2 introduces the dynamic adjustment processes via which we shall assume that firms adjust output over time. We will in particular discuss expectation formation processes and adaptive adjustments and gradient adjustments. The final section will illustrate by simple examples the complexity of the dynamics that can arise in these models due to certain nonlinear features to be described below. The fundamental techniques for the global analysis of the dynamics of such models will be explained in Sect. 1.3.

Gian-Italo Bischi, Carl Chiarella, Michael Kopel, Ferenc Szidarovszky

Chapter 2. Concave Oligopolies

In the previous chapter we have seen that except in very special cases oligopoly models have nonlinear features and therefore can generally exhibit a vast array of dynamical behavior ranging from simple to complicated. Under special conditions however the uniqueness of the equilibrium can be guaranteed, simple conditions can be derived for the local asymptotic stability of the equilibrium with both discrete and continuous time scales, and the global dynamics are less complicated and can be handled with some of the standard tools of nonlinear dynamical systems. In this chapter we will consider concave oligopolies, which are the straightforward generalizations of linear oligopolies and are the most frequently discussed cases in the literature (see for example, Okuguchi and Szidarovszky (


) and the references therein).

Gian-Italo Bischi, Carl Chiarella, Michael Kopel, Ferenc Szidarovszky

Chapter 3. General Oligopolies

In the previous chapter we analyzed concave oligopolies where the best response functions were monotonic and therefore the local and global analysis of the corresponding dynamic processes were relatively simple. The examples discussed there have allowed the reader to become familiar with the major concepts and methods that we shall use in the rest of the book. If we drop the simplifying assumptions of the previous chapter then more complex dynamics may arise. In this chapter we will present a collection of such models.

We initiate our discussion in Sect. 3.1 where we consider oligopolies with isoelastic price functions and dynamics in discrete time. We give a detailed analysis of local and global stability of some particular examples. In Sect. 3.2 we return to the issue of oligopolies with cost externalities, which may display multiple interior Nash equilibria. The global analysis of some specific examples indicates how the oligopoly may converge to particular equilibria.

Gian-Italo Bischi, Carl Chiarella, Michael Kopel, Ferenc Szidarovszky

Chapter 4. Modified and Extended Oligopolies

The previous chapters have introduced and analyzed the classical Cournot model under a number of assumptions. In this chapter we discuss some important modifications and extensions. We first introduce market share attraction games where the dynamics are driven by a generalization of the gradient adjustment process introduced in Chaps. 1 and 1. We carry out both a local and global analysis of the stability of this game. In Sect. 4.2 we consider labor-managed oligopolies with best response dynamics. We give a detailed discussion of the local stability in the discrete time case and via an example show the type of global dynamical behavior that is possible in this model type. The section concludes with a brief discussion of the local stability of a continuous time version of the labor-managed oligopoly. In Sect. 4.3 we introduce intertemporal demand interaction effects, brought about for example by habit formation, into dynamic oligopolies with best response dynamics. We give a local and global stability analysis of the model in discrete time. For the continuous time version we study the local stability of the dynamics, including also the case when there are information lags. In Sect. 4.4 we analyze oligopolies with production adjustment costs. For the case of best reply dynamics in discrete time we give local stability conditions. In the final section we consider oligopolies where there is partial cooperation amongst the firms of the industry. We show various properties of the best response function, give local stability for best reply dynamics in continuous time, and analyze the global dynamics of a particular example under discrete time best response dynamics.

Gian-Italo Bischi, Carl Chiarella, Michael Kopel, Ferenc Szidarovszky

Chapter 5. Oligopolies with Misspecified and Uncertain Price Functions, and Learning

The previous chapters have already dealt with the behavior of boundedly rational firms in an oligopoly. Although the firms know the true demand relationship, we have assumed that they do not know their competitors’ quantity choices. Instead they form expectations about these quantities and they base their own decisions on these beliefs. In particular, we have focused on several adjustment processes that firms might use to determine their quantity selections and we have investigated the circumstances under which such adjustment processes might lead to convergence to the Nash equilibrium of the static oligopoly game. However, the information that firms have about the environment may be incomplete on several accounts. For example, players may misspecify the true demand function or just misestimate the slope of the demand relationship, the reservation price, or the market saturation point. However, if firms base their decisions on such wrong estimates, they will realize that their beliefs are incorrect, since the market data they observe (for example, market prices or quantities) will be different from their predictions. Obviously, firms will try to update their beliefs on the demand relationship and this will give rise to an adjustment process. In other words, firms will try to learn the game they are playing. Following this line of thought, in this chapter we study oligopoly models under the assumption that firms either use misspecified price functions (Sect. 5.1) or do not know certain parameters of the market demand (Sect. 5.2). The main questions we want to answer are the following. If we understand an equilibrium in a game as a steady state of some non-equilibrium process of adjustment and “learning,” what happens if the players use an incorrect model of their environment? Does a reasonable adaptive process (for example, based on the best response) converge to anything? If so, to what does it converge? Is the limit that can be observed when the players play their perceived games (close to) an equilibrium of an equilibrium of the underlying true model? Is the observed situation consistent with the (limit) beliefs of the players?

Gian-Italo Bischi, Carl Chiarella, Michael Kopel, Ferenc Szidarovszky

Chapter 6. Overview and Directions for Future Research

In Chap. 1 we introduced the classical Cournot model and after setting up the general framework we focused on a number of specific examples involving combinations of linear and hyperbolic price functions and linear and quadratic cost functions, also taking careful account of capacity constraints. These examples illustrated the variety of reaction functions that can occur and the various types of equilibria (possibly multiple) both in the interior of the domain of interest and on its boundaries. We then went on to introduce the various types of adjustment processes that underpin the dynamic processes, the study of the local and global dynamics of which has occupied much of the space in this book. In particular we considered discrete time and continuous time versions of partial adjustment towards the best response with naive expectations and adaptive expectations as well as the gradient adjustment process. We then introduced some of the basic tools for the analysis of global dynamics via some examples involving duopoly or symmetric and semi-symmetric oligopolies. We introduced the important concept of basins of attraction of different equilibria and the important tool of the critical curve and the concept of border collision bifurcations method. Already with the simple examples considered we see the types of complexity that can arise in oligopoly models under the type of dynamic adjustment processes we consider here.

Gian-Italo Bischi, Carl Chiarella, Michael Kopel, Ferenc Szidarovszky


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