Forward Contracts, Market Structure, and the Welfare Effects of Mergers

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We examine how forward contracts affect economic outcomes under generalized market structures. In the model, forward contracts discipline the exercise of market power by making profit less sensitive to changes in output. This impact is greatest in markets with intermediate levels of concentration. Mergers reduce the use of forward contracts in equilibrium and, in markets that are sufficiently concentrated, this amplifies the adverse effects on consumer surplus. Additional analyses of merger profitability and collusion are provided. Throughout, we illustrate and extend the theoretical results using Monte Carlo simulations. We discuss the practical relevance for antitrust enforcement.