# On Cobb-Douglas preferences in bilateral oligopoly

Dickson, Alexander (2013) On Cobb-Douglas preferences in bilateral oligopoly. Louvain Economic Review, 79 (4). pp. 89-110. ISSN 0770-4518

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## Abstract

Bilateral oligopoly is a simple model of exchange in which a finite set of sellers seek to exchange the goods they are endowed with for money with a finite set of buyers, and no price-taking assumptions are imposed. If trade takes place via a strategic market game bilateral oligopoly can be thought of as two linked proportional-sharing contests: in one the sellers share the aggregate bid from the buyers in proportion to their supply and in the other the buyers share the aggregate supply in proportion to their bids. The analysis can be separated into two `partial games'. First, fix the aggregate bid at $B$; in the first partial game the sellers contest this fixed prize in proportion to their supply and the aggregate supply in the equilibrium of this game is $\tilde{\mathcal X}(B)$. Next, fix the aggregate supply at $X$; in the second partial game the buyers contest this fixed prize in proportion to their bids and the aggregate bid in the equilibrium of this game is $\tilde{\mathcal B}(X)$. The analysis of these two partial games takes into account competition \emph{within} each side of the market. Equilibrium in bilateral oligopoly must take into account competition \emph{between} sellers and buyers and requires, for example, $\tilde{\mathcal B}(\tilde{\mathcal X}(B))=B$. When all traders have Cobb-Douglas preferences $\tilde{\mathcal X}(B)$ does not depend on $B$ and $\tilde{\mathcal B}(X)$ does not depend on $X$: whilst there is competition within each side of the market there is no strategic interdependence \emph{between} the sides of the market. The Cobb-Douglas assumption provides a tractable framework in which to explore the features of fully strategic trade but it misses perhaps the most interesting feature of bilateral oligopoly, the implications of which are investigated.