Are Public Enterprises the Only Credible Predators?

David E.M. Sappington & J. Gregory SidakAbstractIn this review of John Lott’s book, Are Predatory Commitments Credible?: Who Should the Courts Believe?, we find that Lott is more successful in pointing out the likelihood of predatory pricing by public enterprises than in proving that predatory pricing by private enterprises does not occur. In Part I of this Review, we critique Lott’s theoretical and empirical attempts to show that predatory pricing by private firms is implausible. We review the theoretical arguments regarding the plausibility of predation by private firms, we critique Lott’s empirical research on the credibility of predatory commitments by private firms, and finally we assess Lott’s theoretical analysis of the effects of allowing would-be victims of predation to benefit directly from their privileged knowledge of a predator’s intended activities. In Part II, we assess Lott’s theoretical and empirical analyses of predatory pricing by public enterprises. In Part III, we present, as a proposed research agenda for scholars in law and economics, important unanswered questions that extend Lott’s research on predatory pricing by public enterprises.

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