DP5508 | Markets: The Fulton Fish Market

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Publication Date

09/02/2006

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Abstract

Centralized markets with large numbers of buyers and sellers are generally thought of as being competitive and well-functioning. However, an important role of centralized markets is matching heterogeneous products, such as fish, to buyers of these products. The high level of differentiation in the Fulton fish market and the institutional structure at the Fulton market has led to patterns of behaviour that suggest imperfect competition and market segmentation. At times in the past, the repeated nature of price setting and extensive knowledge of the sellers may have created the basis for tacit collusion and allowed the dealers to gather economic rents by exploiting the different elasticities and buying patterns. Additional economic rents at the market were created by subsidized rents and lax regulation created fertile ground for organized crime to operate.