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Competition from Incumbent Firms During Mergers: Estimating the Effect of Low-Cost Carriers on Post-Merger Prices

By Jonathan Gao

In an evaluation of a merger, the type of existing competitors in the market should play a role in constraining market power following the merger. In the airline industry, heterogeneity between low-cost carriers (LCCs) and legacy carriers suggest that the types of airline competitors could affect the price effects of a merger. This paper investigates the pro-competitive effects that existing, non-merging airline carriers have on prices when an airline merger occurs. Using data in the years around the 2008 merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines, the results show that average price levels of Delta and Northwest dropped after the merger, with larger price decreases on routes with LCC competitors. There is evidence that incumbent LCC competitors have a larger influence than legacy competitors in restricting post-merger prices and market power, confirming that the type of competitors matters in assessing the level of competition in a market. This paper also shows that much of the cost efficiencies from the merger were concentrated on routes with a hub of Delta or Northwest.

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Advisor: James Roberts | JEL Codes: L0, L11, L13 | Tagged: Airline Competition, Airline Merger, Market Structure

The Influence Effect of Critics’ Reviews on Foreign and Domestic Movies

By Jayoung Jeon

Critics and their reviews provide crucial information for consumers in many “experience goods” markets, and the movie market is one such market. Through their impact on the consumer’s film selection, critics’ reviews influence the first weekend box office performance (the influence effect). We hypothesize that the influence effect of critics’ reviews is different for foreign and domestic movies. Using the U.S. film industry as our empirical setting, we examine the effects of reviews on opening weekend revenues in the U.S. film industry. We find that, when the critics’ assessment of domestic movies is positive, people are discouraged from watching the movie. On the other hand, for foreign movies, the impact of positive reviews is found to be positive. We interpret this result as arising from the different target audiences for foreign and domestic movies. Further analysis of our data supports this hypothesis. We also find that people are more influenced to watch movies when they see multiple reviews than only a few of them. This positive impact of the number of critics’ reviews is greater for domestic than foreign movies, and greater for domestic art movies than domestic non-art movies.

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Advisor: James Roberts | JEL Codes: L82, M37 | Tagged: Art, Critics, Films, Foreign, Movies, Reviews

Empirical Evidence of Airline Merger Waves Based on A Selective Entry Model

By Peichun Wang

Ever since the Deregulation Act in 1978 in the U.S. airline industry, there have been series of major airline mergers and acquisitions, notably three major waves in the 1980’s, 1990’s, and late 2000’s. These mergers, especially the more recent multi-billion mergers (e.g. Delta- Northwest, United-Continental) have shown a trend of substantial market consolidation that inevitably worries consumers as well as the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). Most academic literature to date have tried to study mergers in a static setting where these mergers are assumed to be exogenous. However, the clear pattern of merger waves in the airline industry, as well as many other industries, suggests strong correlation between mergers. A few studies that attempted at a dynamic merger model remain theoretical due to computational barriers. In this paper, I found empirical evidence of merger waves by investigating the change of airline carriers’ incentive to merge after another merger between two other carriers. These results are based on a structural model of the U.S. airline industry, in which I estimate demand with a standard (for dierentiated product markets) discrete-choice nested logit model, but allow for selection on entrants’ costs and qualities, i.e. rms with lower costs and higher qualities would have been selected into the market before the merger, suggesting that post-merger entry is less likely than what non-selective entry models have predicted.

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Advisor: James Roberts | JEL Codes: L13, L25, L93 | Tagged: Airline, Merger Wave, Selective Entry

Auctions as an Alternative to Book Building in the IPO Process: An Examination of Underpricing for Large Firms in France

By John Mekjian

A relevant factor in determining the quality of an initial public offering (IPO) mechanism is the level and variability of underpricing that occurs. The percentage difference between the IPO price and the closing price after one day of trading is a common way to define the “underpricing” of the stock. Although companies may value a small amount of positive underpricing, they certainly want this to be controlled. Both extreme positive and extreme negative underpricing are undesirable for a company. Building off of a paper that found a lower mean and variability of underpricing for firms that use the auction IPO mechanism as opposed to the book building IPO mechanism, this paper argues that auctions are not disadvantaged when only large firms are considered. Although this paper finds that the book building mechanism controls underpricing better than the auction mechanism, the advantage disappears when considering only large firms. This analysis is relevant because, aside from two companies, only small companies have used the auction IPO mechanism in the United States. Due to the lack of auction IPOs in the United States, this paper uses French data in its analysis. By showing that large firms using the auction mechanism are not disadvantaged when compared to large firms using the book building mechanism, this paper attempts to encourage large firms in the United States to consider using the auction method for their IPOs.

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Advisor: James Roberts, Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: G12, G14, G20, G30 | Tagged: Auction, IPO, Underpricing

Forecasting Existing Home Sales using Google Search Engine Queries

By Brian Humphrey

This paper employs OLS regressions to determine whether Google search query data improves national and local existing home sales forecasts. The local dataset features metropolitan statistical area data from Texas. Initially, the national and local regressions are estimated without macroeconomic variables. Macroeconomic variables are subsequently included in order to determine if Google search queries provide information not already present in the macroeconomic variables. The impact of the Google variables is assessed using root mean squared error, p-values, and adjusted r-squared values. Finally, the top models are compared using out-of-sample testing. Both the in-sample and out-of-sample test results suggest that Google search query data improves national and local existing home sales forecasts.

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Advisor: James Roberts


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