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© The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2002 Natural monopoly: public or private?
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Nationalisation and privatisation Nationalisation –the acquisition of private companies by the public sector Privatisation –the return of state enterprises to private ownership and control
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Natural monopoly occurs when there is an industry with such economies of scale relative to market demand that only one firm can survive. LMC DD LAC MR Quantity Price The monopoly would produce where MC=MR, with output Q m and price P m and make the profits shown. QmQm PmPm Q' PcPc From society's point of view the optimum position is at P c Q', where MSB = LMC but the monopoly would make a loss if forced to produce at this point, with LAC > AR.
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, (2) Two-part tariff: firm makes a fixed charge to cover the loss made by producing at Q' (the green rectangle), and a variable charge (P c ) related to marginal cost. Natural monopoly (2) DD LMC LAC MR Quantity Price Q' PcPc Alternative pricing policies: E (1) Average cost pricing: Firm sets P=LAC at point G; deadweight loss reduced to GHE. H G
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Nationalisation Another possibility is to nationalise the industry and provide a subsidy to cover the loss –as was popular in Europe in If nationalised industries make losses, this does not prove they are failing to minimise costs or produce at the socially efficient output –but incentives may be a problem.
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Reasons for nationalisation Natural monopoly Externalities –e.g. subsidising public transport (London Underground) may be a second-best option to road pricing Equity or distributional consequences –e.g. protecting transport in rural areas Co-ordinating a network –e.g. British Rail could have an overview of the whole rail system
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Reasons for privatisation Improve incentives for production efficiency –makes managers accountable to shareholders. –but sheltered monopolies will be sleepy no matter who owns them –so privatisation will be most successful where there is potential for competition. Pre-commitment by government not to interfere for political reasons
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Privatisation in practice At 1997 prices, almost £67billion was raised in revenue from privatisation in In terms of widening share ownership, effects were limited. The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is claimed as an innovative way of drawing on private- sector expertise to finance and manage public projects such as roads and hospitals.
© The McGraw-Hill Companies, Regulation Privatisation does not remove the need for regulation. In the UK, regulation has been through price- capping –privatised industries are not permitted to raise prices beyond RPI-X i.e. real prices must fall. Regulatory capture occurs when the regulating body comes to identify with the interests of the firm it regulates –eventually becoming its champion rather than its watchdog.
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