A monopoly is distinguished from a monopsony, in which there is only one buyer of a product or service ; a monopoly may also have monopsony control of a sector of a market. Likewise, a monopoly should be distinguished from a cartel (a form of oligopoly), in which several providers act together to coordinate services, prices or sale of goods. Monopolies, monopsonies and oligopolies are all situations such that one or a few of the entities have market power and therefore interact with their customers (monopoly), suppliers (monopsony) and the other companies (oligopoly) in a game theoretic manner – meaning that expectations about their behavior affects other players' choice of strategy and vice versa. This is to be contrasted with the model of perfect competition in which companies are "price takers" and do not have market power.
When not coerced legally to do otherwise, monopolies typically maximize their profit by producing fewer goods and selling them at higher prices than would be the case for perfect competition. (See also Bertrand, Cournot or Stackelberg equilibria, market power, market share, market concentration, Monopoly profit, industrial economics). Sometimes governments decide legally that a given company is a monopoly that doesn't serve the best interests of the market and/or consumers. Governments 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 mergers. A monopoly is said to be coercive when the monopoly actively prohibits competitors by using practices (such as underselling) which derive from its market or political influence (see Chainstore paradox). There is often debate of whether market restrictions are in the best long-term interest of present and future consumers.
In many jurisdictions, competition laws restrict monopolies. Holding a dominant position or a monopoly of a market is not illegal in itself, however certain categories of behavior can, when a business is dominant, be considered abusive and therefore incur legal sanctions. A government-granted monopoly or legal monopoly, by contrast, is sanctioned by the state, often to provide an incentive to invest in a risky venture or enrich a domestic interest group. Patents, copyright, and trademarks are all examples of government granted and enforced monopolies. The government may also reserve the venture for itself, thus forming a government monopoly.
An oligopoly is a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists). The word is derived, by analogy with "monopoly", from the Greek ὀλίγοι (oligoi) "few" + πόλειν (pólein) "to sell". Because there are few sellers, each oligopolist is likely to be aware of the actions of the others. The decisions of one firm influence, and are influenced by, the decisions of other firms. Strategic planning by oligopolists needs to take into account the likely responses of the other market participants.
Oligopoly is a common market form. As a quantitative description of oligopoly, the four-firm concentration ratio is often utilized. This measure expresses the market share of the four largest firms in an industry as a percentage. For example, as of fourth quarter 2008, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Nextel, and T-Mobile together control 89% of the US cellular phone market.
Oligopolistic competition can give rise to a wide range of different outcomes. In some situations, the firms may employ restrictive trade practices (collusion, market sharing etc.) to raise prices and restrict production in much the same way as a monopoly. Where there is a formal agreement for such collusion, this is known as a cartel. A primary example of such a cartel is OPEC which has a profound influence on the international price of oil.
Firms often collude in an attempt to stabilize unstable markets, so as to reduce the risks inherent in these markets for investment and product development. There are legal restrictions on such collusion in most countries. There does not have to be a formal agreement for collusion to take place (although for the act to be illegal there must be actual communication between companies)–for example, in some industries there may be an acknowledged market leader which informally sets prices to which other producers respond, known as price leadership.
In other situations, competition between sellers in an oligopoly can be fierce, with relatively low prices and high production. This could lead to an efficient outcome approaching perfect competition. The competition in an oligopoly can be greater than when there are more firms in an industry if, for example, the firms were only regionally based and did not compete directly with each other.
Thus the welfare analysis of oligopolies is sensitive to the parameter values used to define the market's structure. In particular, the level of dead weight loss is hard to measure. The study of product differentiation indicates that oligopolies might also create excessive levels of differentiation in order to stifle competition.
Oligopoly theory makes heavy use of game theory to model the behavior of oligopolies:
- Stackelberg's duopoly. In this model the firms move sequentially (see Stackelberg competition).
- Cournot's duopoly. In this model the firms simultaneously choose quantities (see Cournot competition).
- Bertrand's oligopoly. In this model the firms simultaneously choose prices (see Bertrand competition).
In game theory, Nash equilibrium (named after John Forbes Nash, who proposed it) is a solution concept of a game involving two or more players, in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his own strategy unilaterally:14. If each player has chosen a strategy and no player can benefit by changing his or her strategy while the other players keep theirs unchanged, then the current set of strategy choices and the corresponding payoffs constitute a Nash equilibrium.
Stated simply, Amy and Phil are in Nash equilibrium if Amy is making the best decision she can, taking into account Phil's decision, and Phil is making the best decision he can, taking into account Amy's decision. Likewise, a group of players is in Nash equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that he or she can, taking into account the decisions of the others. However, Nash equilibrium does not necessarily mean the best payoff for all the players involved; in many cases, all the players might improve their payoffs if they could somehow agree on strategies different from the Nash equilibrium: e.g., competing businesses forming a cartel in order to increase their profits.
Institutional SociopathyA complex, sobering documentary, THE CORPORATION takes its audience on a graphic and engaging quest to reveal the corporation's inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures.
The high cost of cheap
A very good and true Documentary about Wal Mart! Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant's assault on families and American values. The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a Goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide health care for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins! Producer/Director Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films take you on an extraordinary journey that will change the way you think, feel -- and shop.
Producer/Director Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films take you on an extraordinary journey that will change the way you think, feel -- and shop.
Check out their website: http://www.walmartmovie.com
The media material presented in this production is protected by the FAIR USE CLAUSE of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the rebroadcast of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism, and education.
(2007) China Blue
They live crowded together in cement factory dormitories where water has to be carried upstairs in buckets. Their meals and rent are deducted from their wages, which amount to less than a dollar a day. Most of the jeans they make in the factory are purchased by retailers in the U.S. and other countries. CHINA BLUE takes viewers inside a blue jeans factory in southern China, where teenage workers struggle to survive harsh working conditions.