EH20147631 Art. Following the pack or fighting the crises? The role of large French firms in the European…

Type d'édition : Papier
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During the interwar period, most European cement producers began considering the advantages of building national and international agreements. Some of them, such as the English producers, had already built strong national agreements while others, such as the French producers, only had local and temporary price-fixing organizations. The behavior of the cement industry differs from other sectors of heavy industry and, unlike the steel industry, for example, the French cement industry did not organize its national cartel during the 1920s. The reasons for this particular situation are related to the oligopolistic structure of the cement market as well as to economic cycles, although a significant change occurred as a result of the economic crisis of the 1920s and 1930s. The objective of this paper is to explain how the cement cartel was used by French cement producers to deal with this crisis. First of all, the structure and dynamics of the French cement industry during the interwar period are explained, including the issue of competition within an oligopolistic market. Secondly, the unsuccessful attempts of cement producers to agree on how to rebuild their industry in the 192s are outlined. Finally, the economic repercussions of the financial crisis of 1929 are considered as these led to the creation of the French and European cement cartel. The success and limitations of this particular attempt at cooperation are analyzed.

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