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A monopoly (from Greek monos (alone or single) + polein (to sell)) exists when a specific person or enterprise is the

only supplier of a particular commodity. (This contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly w hich consists of a few entities dominating an industry) Monopolies are thus characterised by a lack of economic competitio n to produce the good or service and a lack of viable substitute goods. The verb "monopolise" refers to the process by which a company gains much greater market share than what is expected with perfect comp etition. monopolies typically maximize their profit by producing fewer goods and selling them at greater prices than would be the case for perfect competition. Sometimes governments decide legally that a given company is a monopoly that doesn't serve the best interests of the market and/or consumers. G overnments may force such companies to divide into smaller independent corporations as was the case of United States v. AT&T, or alter its behavior as was the case of United States v. Microsoft, to protect consumers. Monopolies can be established by a government, form naturally, or form by merger s. A monopoly is said to be coercive when the monopoly actively prohibits competitors by using practices (such as underse lling) which derive from its market or political influence . There is often debate of whether market restrictions are i n the best long-term interest of present and future consumers. Characteristics 1. Profit Maximiser: Maximizes profit. 2. Price Maker: Decides the price of the good or product to be sold. 3. High Barriers to Entry: Other sellers are unable to enter the market of the m onopoly. 4. Single seller: In a monopoly there is one seller of the good which produces a ll the output. Therefore, the whole market is being served by a single company, and for practical purposes , the company is the same as the industry. 5. Price Discrimination: A monopolist can change the price and quality of the pr oduct. He sells more quantities charging less price for the product in a very elastic market and sells less quantities ch arging high price in a less elastic market. Sources of monopoly power circumstances that p Monopolies derive their market power from barriers to entry revent or greatly impede a potential competitor's ability to compete in a market . There are three major types of barriers to entry; economic, legal and deliberat e. 1. Economic barriers: Economic barriers include economies of scale, capital req uirements, cost advantages and technological superiority. 2. Economies of scale: Monopolies are characterised by decreasing costs for a re

latively large range of production. Decreasing costs coupled with large initial costs give monopolies an advantage over would-be competitors. Monopolies are often in a position to reduce prices below a new entrant's operating costs a nd thereby prevent them from continuing to compete. Furthermore, the size of the industry relative to the minimum effici ent scale may limit the number of companies that can effectively compete within the industry. If for example the i ndustry is large enough to support one company of minimum efficient scale then other companies entering the industry wi ll operate at a size that is less than MES, meaning that these companies cannot produce at an average cost that is comp etitive with the dominant company. Finally, if long-term average cost is constantly decreasing. the least cost meth od to provide a good or service is by a single company. 3. Capital requirements: Production processes that require large investments of capital, or large research and development costs or substantial sunk costs limit the number of companies in an industry. L arge fixed costs also make it difficult for a small company to enter an industry and expand. 4. Technological superiority: A monopoly may be better able to acquire, integra te and use the best possible technology in producing its goods while entrants do not have the size or finances to use the best available technology. One large company can sometimes produce goods cheaper than several small companies. 5. No substitute goods: A monopoly sells a good for which there is not any clos e substitutes. The absence of substitutes makes the demand for the good relatively inelastic enabling monopolies to extrac t positive profits. 6. Control of natural resources: A prime source of monopoly power is the control of resources that are critical to the production of a final good. 7. Network externalities: The use of a product by a person can affect the value of that product to other people. This is the network effect. There is a direct relationship between the proportion of peo ple using a product and the demand for that product. In other words the more people who are using a product the greater the probability of any individual starting to use the product. This effect accounts for fads and fashion trends. I t also can play a crucial role in the development or acquisition of market power. The most famous current example is the market dominance of the Microsoft operating system of personal computers. 8. Legal barriers: Legal rights can provide opportunity to monopolise the market of a good. Intellectual property rights, including patents and copyrights, give a monopolist exclusive control of the pro duction and selling of certain goods. Property rights may give a company exclusive control of the materials necessary to produce a good. 9. Deliberate actions: A company wanting to monopolise a market may engage in va rious types of deliberate action to exclude competitors or eliminate competition. Such actions include collusion, lo bbying governmental authorities, and force

Monopoly versus competitive markets While monopoly and perfect competition mark the extremes of market structures th

ere is some similarity. The cost functions are the same. Both monopolies and perfectly competitive companies minimize cost and maximize profit. The shutdown decisions are the same. Both are assumed to have perfectly competitive factors m arkets. There are distinctions, some of the more important of which are as follows: 1. Marginal revenue and price - In a perfectly competitive market price equals m arginal revenue. In a monopolistic market marginal revenue is less than price. 2. Product differentiation: There is zero product differentiation in a perfectly competitive market. Every product is perfectly homogeneous and a perfect substi tute for any other. With a monopoly, there is great to absolute product differentiation in the sense that there is not any available substitute for a monopolized good. The monopolist is the sole supplier of the good in question. A customer either buys from the monopolizing entity on its terms or does without. 3.Number of competitors: PC markets are populated by an infinite number of buyer s and sellers. Monopoly involves a single seller. 4. Barriers to Entry - Barriers to entry are factors and circumstances that prev ent entry into market by would-be competitors and limit new companies from opera ting and expanding within the market. PC markets have free entry and exit. There are not any barriers to entry, exit or competition. Monopolies have relatively great barriers to entry. The barriers must be strong enough to prevent or discourage a ny potential competitor from entering the market. Elasticity of Demand; the price elasticity of demand is the percentage change of demand caused by a one percent change of relative price. A successful monopoly would have a relatively inelastic demand curve. A low coefficient of elasticity is in dicative of effective barriers to entry. A PC company has a perfectly elastic de mand curve. The coefficient of elasticity for a perfectly competitive demand curve is infinite. 5. Excess Profits- Excess or positive profits are profit more than the normal ex pected return on investment. A PC company can make excess profits in the short t erm but excess profits attract competitors which can enter the market freely and decrea se prices, eventually reducing excess profits to zero. A monopoly can preserve excess profits because barriers to entry prevent competitors from entering the m arket. Profit Maximization - A PC company maximizes profits by producing such that pric e equals marginal costs. A monopoly maximises profits by producing where margina l revenue equals marginal costs. The rules are not equivalent. The demand curve for a PC company is perfectly elastic - flat. The demand curve is identical to the averag e revenue curve and the price line. Since the average revenue curve is constant the marginal revenue curve is also constant and equals the demand curve, Average revenue is the same as price (AR = TR/Q = P x Q/Q = P). Thus the price line is also identical to the demand curve. In sum, D = AR = MR = P. 6. P-Max quantity, price and profit - If a monopolist obtains control of a forme rly perfectly competitive industry, the monopolist would increase prices, reduce product ion, and realise positive economic profits. 7. Supply Curve - in a perfectly competitive market there is a well defined supp ly function with a one to one relationship between price and quantity supplied. In a monopolistic market no such supply relationship exists. A monopolist canno t trace a short term supply curve because for a given price there is not a uniqu e quantity supplied. As Pindyck and Rubenfeld note a change in demand "can lead to changes in prices with no change in output, changes in output with no change in

price or both." Monopolies produce where marginal revenue equals marginal costs. For a specific demand curve the supply "curve" would be the price/quantity combinati on at the point where marginal revenue equals marginal cost. If the demand curve sh ifted the marginal revenue curve would shift as well and a new equilibrium and s upply "point" would be established. The locus of these points would not be a supply cu rve in any conventional sense.

Market power Market power is the ability to increase the product's price above marginal cost without losing all customers. Perfectly competitive (PC) companies have zero mar ket power when it comes to setting prices. All companies of a PC market are price t akers. The price is set by the interaction of demand and supply at the market or aggregate level. Individual companies simply take the price determined by the ma rket and produce that quantity of output that maximize the company's profits. If a PC company attempted to increase prices above the market level all its cust omers would abandon the company and purchase at the market price from other comp anies. A monopoly has considerable although not unlimited market power. A monopoly has the power to set prices or quantities although not both. A monopoly is a price maker. The monopoly is the market and prices are set by the monopolist based on his circumstances and not the interaction of demand and supply. The two primary factors determining monopoly market power are the company's dema nd curve and its cost structure. Market power is the ability to affect the terms and conditions of exchange so th at the price of a product is set by a single company (price is not imposed by the market as in perfect competition). Although a monop oly's market power is great it is still limited by the demand side of the market. A monopoly has a negatively sloped demand curve, not a perfectly inelast ic curve. Consequently, any price increase will result in the loss of some custo mers.

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