This paper provides an explanation for noisy pricing based on the strategic interaction of two firms competing in prices. When a firm adds noise to its prices, undercutting it becomes harder. Therefore, noisy pricing allows a firm to either exclude a competitor while charging supracompetitive prices, or to soften competition and have both firms earn supracompetitive profits. Such behavior leads to prices lying between competitive and monopolistic levels, and harms consumers and social welfare. It occurs in equilibrium if firms set prices sequentially, and in some equilibria of a repeated game of simultaneous price-setting if one firm is patient.
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