The article is about determining the precise start and end dates of cartels. The legally established period of infringement, based on supporting documents, such as minutes from court proceedings, often does not coincide with the period of the actual cartel effects. Competition authorities still state begin and end dates in their decisions, often to the day.
For estimating cartel damages, it is relevant to determine the difference between the prices paid and the but-for prices: the prices that most likely would have established in the market if there would not have been a cartel. The article Cartel Dating shows that if the cartel period is incorrectly dated, the but-for prices will be overestimated with the result that the cartel damage will be underestimated. This effect occurs regardless of the type and size of the dating error.
In the article, the researchers also propose an empirical cartel dating procedure to date effective cartel periods based on standard structural breaks methods (Bai-Perron). Plaintiffs that want to recover cartel damages are advised to use such a methodology, to prevent the risk to claim too little damage.