Longterm development of return on assets – an empirical panel data analysis
One of the basic propositions of economic theory is the fact that competition does not allow permanent very high or very low returns. But how can the permanent surplus gain of a monopolist be distinguished from innovation gains? In which markets is a regulatory interference necessary? Contrary to the static analysis, the concept of dynamic competition explicitly considers the temporal development of return and gain. An entrepreneur can achieve an advantage over the competitors through new products or new production processes. Hence arising innovation gains function as incentives for imitators to join the development which in turn leads to a reduction of the surplus gains. Thus, these gains are not contradictory to an effective competition. On the basis of annual balance sheets of German firms, this article analyses the temporal development of returns on assets. It is to evaluate whether the adaptation process assumed by Schumpeter that matches very high and very low gains with a longterm level can be confirmed, and how fast this process works. The average industry returns of the manufacturing industry show a convergence to a longterm level. During this process, an average of 40% of the deviation from the longterm level are melted every year. However, the analysis of company returns shows longterm differences. The adaptation rate of companies, 50%, is significantly higher compared to the industry value. The analysis of the connection between the adaptation rate and the longterm return level of companies proves that companies which face above-average competition strength obtain a higher longterm return level than other companies. When firms operate within markets with high stress of competition they do not achieve below-average returns but rather significantly above-average returns in the long term.