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1 Chapter 15 Monopoly Outline of Topics T1 Why monopolies arise T2 How monopolies make production and pricing decisions T3 The Welfare cost of monopoly.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Chapter 15 Monopoly Outline of Topics T1 Why monopolies arise T2 How monopolies make production and pricing decisions T3 The Welfare cost of monopoly."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Chapter 15 Monopoly Outline of Topics T1 Why monopolies arise T2 How monopolies make production and pricing decisions T3 The Welfare cost of monopoly T4 Public policy toward monopolies T5 Price discrimination

2 2 T1 Why monopolies arise Monopoly: a firm that is the sole seller of a product without close substitutes The fundamental cause of monopoly is barrier to entry. Barrier to entry have three main sources: 1, A key resource is owned by a single firm: –Although exclusive ownership of a of a key resource is a potential cause of monopoly, in practice monopolies rarely arise from this reason. 2, Government created monopolies: the government gives a single firm the exclusive right to produce some good or service –In many cases, monopolies arise because the government has given one person or firm the exclusive right to sell some good or service.

3 3 –The patent and copyright laws are two important examples of how the government creates a monopoly to serve the public interest. –Because these laws give one producer a monopoly, they lead to higher prices than would occur under competition. By allowing these monopoly producers to charge higher prices and earn higher profits, the laws also encourage some desirable behaviour such as pharmaceutical research for new drugs. –Thus, the laws governing patents and copyrights have benefits and costs. The benefit of the patent and copyright laws is the increased incentive for creative activity. This benefit is offset to some extent by the costs of monopoly pricing.

4 4 3, Natural monopolies: the costs of production make a single producer more efficient than a large number of producers –See Figure 15-1 on page 321 –When a firm’s ATC curve continually declines, the firm has what is called a natural monopoly –When a firm is a natural monopoly, it is less concerned about new entrants eroding its monopoly power. Normally, a firm has trouble maintaining a monopoly position without ownership of a key resource or protection from the government. The monopolist’s profit attracts entrants into the market, and these entrants make the market more competitive. By contrast, entering a market in which another firm has a natural monopoly is unattractive.

5 5 T2 How monopolies make production and pricing decisions The key difference between a competitive firm and a monopoly is the monopoly’s ability to influence the price of its output. A competitive firm is small relative to the market in which it operates and therefore, takes the price of its output as given by market condition. By contrast, because a monopoly is the sole producer in its market, it can alter the price of its good by adjusting the quantity it supplies to the market. One way to view this difference between a competitive firm and a monopoly is to consider the demand curve that each firm faces. See Figure 15-2 on page 323.

6 6 –Competitive firms are price takers, they in effect face horizontal demand curves. –A monopoly firm is the sole producer in its market, it faces the downward-sloping market demand curve. As a result, the monopoly has to accept a lower price if it wants to sell more output. A monopoly’s revenue Consider a town with a single producer of water. See Table 15-1 on page 324. –Total Revenue (TR) =P*Q –Average Revenue (AR) = TR/Q –Marginal Revenue (MR) = Δ TR/ ΔQ Table 15-1 shows a result that is important for understanding monopoly behaviour: a monopolist’s MR is always less than the price of its good.

7 7 For a monopoly, MR is lower than price because a monopoly faces a downward-sloping demand curve. To increase the amount sold, a monopoly firm must lower the price of its good. For example, to sell the fourth litre of water, the monopolist must get less revenue for each of the first three litres. When a monopoly increases the amount it sells, there are two effects on total revenue (P*Q) –The output effect: more output is sold, so Q is higher –The price effect: the price falls, so P is lower Because a competitive firm can sell all it wants at the market price, there is no price effect. When it increases production by one unit, it receives the market price for that unit, and it does not receive any less for the amount it was already selling. Since the competitive firm is a price taker, its MR equals the price of its good.

8 8 See Figure 15-3 on page 325. These two curves always start at the same point on the vertical axis because the MR of the first unit sold equals the price of the good. MR can even become negative. MR is negative when the price effect on revenue is greater than the output effect. In this case, when the firm produces an extra unit of output, the price falls by enough to cause the firm’s TR to decline, even though the firm is selling more units. Profit Maximization See Figure 15-4 on page 326. The monopolist’s profit maximizing quantity of output is determined by the intersection of the MR and the MC. That is the Q max in the Figure Q 1 ? Q 2 ?

9 9 In following this rule, MR=MC, for profit maximization, competitive firms and monopolies are alike. However, there is an important difference between these types of firm: –For a competitive firm: p= MR=MC ( P =MC) –For a monopoly firm: P > MR = MC ( P > MC) How does the monopoly find the profit-maximizing price for this product? –The demand curve answers this question, because the demand curve relates the amount that customers are willing to pay to the quantity sold. Thus, after the monopoly firm chooses the quantity of output that equates MR and MC, it uses the demand curve to find the price consistent with that quantity. In Figure 15-4, the profit-maximizing price is found at point B.

10 10 A monopoly’s profit Profit = TR-TC = (TR/Q –TC/Q)*Q = (AR –ATC)*Q = (P-ATC)*Q See Figure 15-5 on page 328. Case study: Monopoly Drugs Vs. Generic Drugs Monopoly drugs (Brand-name drugs): when a firm discovers a new drug, patent laws give the firm a monopoly on the sale of that drug. Generic drugs are chemically identical to the former monopolist’s brand-name product. But eventually the firm’s patent runs out, and any company can make and sell the drug. At that time, the market switches from being monopolistic to being competitive. See Figure 15-6 on page 329.

11 11 T3 The welfare cost of monopoly Is monopoly a good way to organize a market? –From the standpoint of consumers, this high price makes monopoly undesirable. –From the standpoint of owners of the firm, the high price makes monopoly very desirable because owners have a good earning profit from charging this high price. Is it possible that the benefits to the firm’s owners exceed the costs imposed on consumers, making monopoly desirable form the standpoint of society as a whole? We can use total surplus as our measure of economic well- being. See Figure 15-7 on page 331. It shows what level of output a benevolent social planner would choose.

12 12 The demand curve reflects the value of the good to consumers, as measured by their willingness to pay for it. The marginal cost curve reflects the costs of the monopolist. Thus, the socially efficient quantity is found where the demand curve and the marginal-cost curve intersect. Below this quantity, the value to consumers exceeds the marginal cost of providing the good, so increasing output would raise total surplus. Above this quantity, the marginal cost exceeds the value to consumers, so decreasing output would raise total surplus. If the social planner were running the monopoly, the firm could achieve this efficient outcome by charging the price found at the intersection of the demand and MC curves. Thus, a social planner would charge a price equals MC.

13 13 As we have seen on slide 8, the monopolist chooses to produce and sell the quantity of output at which MR=MC; the social planner would choose the quantity at which the demand and MC intersect. See Figure 15-8 on page 332. It shows the above comparison. The monopolist produces less than the socially efficient quantity of output. –When a monopolist charges a price above marginal cost, some potential consumers value the good at more than its marginal cost but less than the monopolist’s price. These consumers do not end up buying the good. Because the value these consumers place on the good is greater than the cost of providing it to them, this result is inefficient.

14 14 Thus, the area of the deadweight-loss triangle between the demand curve and the marginal-cost curve equals the total surplus loss because of monopoly pricing. The monopoly’s profit: a social cost? A monopoly firm does earn a higher profit by virtue of its market power. However, the firm’s profit is not in itself necessarily a problem for society. Whenever a consumer pays an extra dollar to a producer because of a monopoly price, the consumer is worse off by a dollar, and the producer is better off by the same amount. This transfer from the consumers of the good to the owners of the monopoly does not affect the market’s total surplus- the sum of consumer and producer surplus. In other words, the monopoly profit itself does not represent a shrinkage in the size of economic pie; it merely represents a bigger

15 15 slice for producers and a smaller slice for consumers. Unless consumers are for some reason more deserving than producers-a judgment that goes beyond the realm of economic efficiency-the monopoly profit is not a social problem. The problem in a monopolized market arise because the firm produces and sells a quantity of output below the level that maximizes total surplus. The inefficiently low quantity of output is caused by the monopoly’s high price. The deadweight loss can measure how the economic pie shrinks as a result. If the high monopoly price did not discourage some consumers from buying the good, it would raise producer surplus by exactly the amount it reduced consumer surplus, leaving total surplus the same as could be achieved by a benevolent social planner.

16 16 A possible exception to the above conclusion. Suppose that a monopoly firm has to incur additional costs to maintain its monopoly position. For example, firm need to hire lobbyists to convince lawmakers to continue its monopoly. Firms that devote resources to protecting or obtaining a monopoly are said to be engaging in rent seeking ( “rent” is another word for economic profits). –A firm that engages in rent seeking may use up some of its monopoly profits paying for these additional resources. –The costs associated with rent seeking are a real cost imposed on society because the resources could have been used in some other productive activity. –The social cost of monopoly thus includes both the costs associated with rent seeking and the deadweight loss.

17 17 T4 Public policy toward monopolies Monopolies fail to allocate resources efficiently because monopolies produce less than the socially desirable quantity of output and as a result charge prices above marginal cost. Policy makers in the government can respond to the problem of monopoly in one of four ways: –By trying to make monopolized industries more competitive (Competition Law) –By regulating the behaviour of the monopolies (Regulation) –By turning some private monopolies into public enterprises (Public ownership) –By doing nothing at all (Doing nothing)

18 18 Competition Law The Competition Act recognize that competition is a means to an end (or several ends) and firmly places competition policy in Canada in a global context. In its preamble, the act states that its purpose is to maintain and encourage competition –in order to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy, –in order to expand opportunities for Canadian participation in world markets while at the same time recognizing the role of foreign competition in Canada, –in order to ensure that small and medium-size enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the Canadian economy, and –in order to provide consumers with competitive prices and product choices.

19 19 Regulation This solution is common in the case of natural monopolies, such as water and electric companies. These companies are not allowed to charge any price they want. Instead, government agencies regulate their prices. What price should the government set for a natural monopoly? Setting price = MC ? If price equals MC, customers will buy the quantity of monopolist’s output that maximizes total surplus, and the allocation of resources will be efficient. However, there are two practical problems with marginal cost pricing as a regulatory system. The first is illustrated in Figure 15-9 on page 337. Because a natural monopoly has declining ATC, MC is less than ATC.

20 20 –Therefore, if regulators requires a natural monopoly to charge a price equal to MC, price will be below ATC and the monopoly will lose money. –Regulator can respond to this problem by subsiding the monopolist or allowing the monopolist to charge a price higher than MC. The second problem is that it gives the monopolist no incentive to reduce costs. –Each firm in a competitive market tries to reduce its costs because lower costs mean higher profits. –But if a regulated monopolist knows that regulators will reduce prices whenever costs fall, the monopolist will not benefit from lower costs. –Regulators deal with this problem by allowing monopolists to keep some of the benefits from lower costs in the form of higher profit.

21 21 Public Ownership That is, rather than regulating a natural monopoly that is run by a private firm, the government can run the monopoly itself. In Canada, government ownership occurs at both the federal and the provincial levels. Government-owned firms are known as Crown corporation. Federal Crown corporations include Canada Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. In the past decade the federal government has privatized some of its Crown corporations, including Petro-Canada, Air Canada and the Canadian National Railway. At the provincial level, Crown corporations exist in insurance, hydroelectricity and telecommunications. Gas and water utilities are also public owned in most provinces.

22 22 Economist usually prefer private to public ownership of natural monopolies. The key issue is how the ownership of the firm affects the costs of production. Private owners have an incentive to minimize costs as long as they reap part of the benefit in the form of higher profit. If the firm’s managers are doing a bad job of keeping costs down, the firm’s owner will fire them. By contrast, if the government bureaucrats who run a monopoly do a bad job, the losers are the customers and taxpayers, whose only resource is the political system. As a way of ensuring that firms are well run, the voting booth is less reliable than the profit motive.

23 23 Doing Nothing Each of the foregoing policies aimed at reducing the problem of monopoly has drawbacks. As a result, some economists argue that it is often best for the government not to try to remedy the inefficiencies of monopoly pricing. George Stigler, who won Nobel Prize for his work in Industrial Organization wrote: “ A famous theorem in economics states that a competitive enterprise economy will produce the largest possible income from a given stock of resource. No real economy meets the exact conditions of the theorem, and all real economies will fall short of the ideal economy-a difference called “ market failure.” In my view, however, the degree of market failure for the American economy is much smaller than the political failure arising from the imperfections of economic policies found in real political systems.”

24 24 As this quotation makes clear, determining the proper role of the government in the economy requires making judgments about politics as well as economics. See Figure on page 339 Consider government regulation or ownership as inflating the costs of production above the “true” costs. Without G intervention, the profit maximizing monopolist will produce output Q 0 and charge a price of P 0. This generates a deadweight loss given by the area of the triangle ABC. With G intervention- setting P=ATC. If this price is based on the monopolist’s ATC true, then the price is P true and quantity is Q true and the deadweight loss is the triangle DEC. However, if the government regulation causes the monopolist’s ATC to inflate to ATC inflated and the resulting regulated price is set to P inflated and quantity is Q inflated

25 25 and the deadweight loss would increase to the area given by the triangle FGC. In this case, society would be better off if the government did nothing. T5 Price Discrimination Price discrimination: the business practice of selling the same good at different prices to different customers. For a firm to price discriminate, it must have some market power. Price discrimination is a rational strategy for a profit- maximizing monopolist because by charging different prices to different customers, a monopolist can increase its profit. In essence, a price-discriminating monopolist charges each customer a price closer to his or her willingness to pay than is possible with a single price.

26 26 Price discrimination requires the ability to separate customers according to their willingness to pay. (arbitrage or resell issue) Price discrimination can raise economic welfare See Figure on page 342 Comparing these two panels, you can see that perfect price discrimination raises profit, raise total surplus and lowers consumer surplus. This is the case of First-degree price discrimination. It occurs when the seller is able to extract the entire consumer surplus

27 27 Second-degree price discrimination is “like” first-degree price discrimination. The seller knows that there are buyers of different types; but the seller is not able to identify the different types. Example: Quantity discounts. Third-degree price discrimination: Consumers differ by some observable characteristic(s) A uniform price is charged to all consumers in a particular group; but different uniform prices are charged to different groups –“kids are free” –Airlines prices –early-bird specials –Movie Tickets –Discount coupons


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