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Free Content Markets: The Fulton Fish Market

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The Fulton Fish Market was a colorful part of the New York City landscape that operated on Fulton Street in Manhattan for over 150 years. In 2005 the market moved from the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan to Hunts Point in the South Bronx. The Fulton Fish Market—now called The New Fulton Fish Market—is one of the world's largest fish markets, second in size only to Tsukiji, the famous fish market in Tokyo. To economists, it may seem that a large centralized market with well-informed buyers and sellers should also be a very competitive market. But fish is a highly differentiated product. Buyers often wish to examine fish themselves, or have their agents do so. The centralized market performs an important function in matching fish to buyers. The high level of product differentiation and the institutional structure in the Fulton fish market can lead to patterns of behavior that suggest imperfect competition and a segmented market. 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 resulted from subsidies. Before reforms in 1995, lax regulation of the market provided fertile ground for organized crime.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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