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The classical notion of competition revisited

Salvadori, Neri and Signorino, Rodolfo (2010): The classical notion of competition revisited.

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Abstract

We compare and analyse two different conceptions of market competition: the walrasian notion of perfect competition and the Classical notion of free competition: while the former may be described as an equilibrium state in which atomistic agents treat prices parametrically, the latter is a situation in which agents, endowed by market power, fix prices strategically. We show that price undercutting or outbidding are the typical phenomena that, for the Classical authors, may be observed in a market characterized by free competition. We investigate some problematic aspects of the neoclassical notion of perfect competition and we reconstruct the Classical theory of free competition, as developed, in particular, by Adam Smith and Karl Marx, in the light of the modern notion of mixed strategies equilibria.

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