<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The rest is history

In the opening case, the East India Company and the Confederate States were presented as a monopoly or near monopoly provider of a good. Nearly every American schoolchild knows the result of the ‘unwelcome visit’ the ‘Mohawks’ bestowed upon Boston Harbor’s tea-bearing ships—the Boston Tea Party. Regarding the cotton industry, we also know Great Britain remained neutral during the Civil War, taking neither side during the conflict.

Did the monopoly nature of these business have unintended and historical consequences? Might the American Revolution have been deterred, if the East India Company had sailed the tea-bearing ships back to England? Might the southern states have made different decisions had they not been so confident “King Cotton” would force diplomatic recognition of the Confederate States of America? Of course, it is not possible to definitively answer these questions; after all we cannot roll back the clock and try a different scenario. We can, however, consider the monopoly nature of these businesses and the roles they played and hypothesize about what might have occurred under different circumstances.

Perhaps if there had been legal free tea trade, the colonists would have seen things differently; there was smuggled Dutch tea in the colonial market. If the colonists had been able to freely purchase Dutch tea, they would have paid lower prices and avoided the tax.

What about the cotton monopoly? With one in five jobs in Great Britain depending on Southern cotton and the Confederate States nearly the sole provider of that cotton, why did Great Britain remain neutral during the Civil War? At the beginning of the war, Britain simply drew down massive stores of cotton. These stockpiles lasted until near the end of 1862. Why did Britain not recognize the Confederacy at that point? Two reasons: The Emancipation Proclamation and new sources of cotton. Having outlawed slavery throughout the United Kingdom in 1833, it was politically impossible for Great Britain, empty cotton warehouses or not, to recognize, diplomatically, the Confederate States. In addition, during the two years it took to draw down the stockpiles, Britain expanded cotton imports from India, Egypt, and Brazil.

Monopoly sellers often see no threats to their superior marketplace position. In these examples did the power of the monopoly blind the decision makers to other possibilities? Perhaps. But, as they say, the rest is history.

Key concepts and summary

A monopolist is not a price taker, because when it decides what quantity to produce, it also determines the market price. For a monopolist, total revenue is relatively low at low quantities of output, because not much is being sold. Total revenue is also relatively low at very high quantities of output, because a very high quantity will sell only at a low price. Thus, total revenue for a monopolist will start low, rise, and then decline. The marginal revenue for a monopolist from selling additional units will decline. Each additional unit sold by a monopolist will push down the overall market price, and as more units are sold, this lower price applies to more and more units.

The monopolist will select the profit-maximizing level of output where MR = MC, and then charge the price for that quantity of output as determined by the market demand curve. If that price is above average cost, the monopolist earns positive profits.

Monopolists are not productively efficient, because they do not produce at the minimum of the average cost curve. Monopolists are not allocatively efficient, because they do not produce at the quantity where P = MC. As a result, monopolists produce less, at a higher average cost, and charge a higher price than would a combination of firms in a perfectly competitive industry. Monopolists also may lack incentives for innovation, because they need not fear entry.


Draw the demand curve, marginal revenue, and marginal cost curves from [link] , and identify the quantity of output the monopoly wishes to supply and the price it will charge. Suppose demand for the monopoly’s product increases dramatically. Draw the new demand curve. What happens to the marginal revenue as a result of the increase in demand? What happens to the marginal cost curve? Identify the new profit-maximizing quantity and price. Does the answer make sense to you?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Draw a monopolist’s demand curve, marginal revenue, and marginal cost curves. Identify the monopolist’s profit-maximizing output level. Now, think about a slightly higher level of output (say Q 0 + 1). According to the graph, is there any consumer willing to pay more than the marginal cost of that new level of output? If so, what does this mean?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!


Aboukhadijeh, Feross. “Chapter 20: Girding for War - The North and the South, 1861-1865.” StudyNotes, Inc . Accessed July 7, 2013. http://www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/outlines/chapter-20-girding-for-war-the-north-and-the-south-1861-1865/.

British Parliament. “(28 August 1833). Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section LXIV.” Accessed July 2013. http://www.pdavis.nl/Legis_07.htm.

Dattel, E. (nd). "Cotton and the Civil War." Mississippi Historical Society . Accessed July 2013. http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/291/cotton-and-the-civil-war.

Gartner. 2015. “Gartner Says Tablet Sales Continue to Be Slow in 2015.” Accessed March 12, 2015. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2954317.

Grogan, David. 2015. “Federal Judge Finds AmEx’s Anti-Steering Rule Violates Antitrust Law.” American Booksellers Association. Accessed March 12, 2015. http://www.bookweb.org/news/federal-judge-finds-amex%E2%80%99s-anti-steering-rule-violates-antitrust-law.

Massachusetts Historical Society. “The Coming of the American Revolution 1764-1776: The Boston Tea Party.” Retrieved from http://www.masshist.org/revolution/teaparty.php.

Massachusetts Historical Society. “Whereas our Nation.” The Massachusetts Gazette , p. 2. Accessed July 2013 http://www.masshist.org/revolution/image-viewer.php?old=1&item_id=457&img_step=1&nmask=1&mode=large.

Pelegrin, William. 2015. “Judge Overrules Antitrust Case Against Google , Says Setting Default Search Engines Is Fair.” Digital Trends. Accessed March 12, 2015. http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/judge-tosses-out-google-antitrust-lawsuit/.

Questions & Answers

determinants of elasticity of supply
Lalit Reply
How does market failure arise from the characteristics of public goods
Linda Reply
can i be the part of discussion
feel free
us. finite is the meaning amount of resources avaible . of the. only. good. finite amount of there I only point the is I want you to be on my side
Samantha Reply
there are how many types of demand?
Young Reply
dicejd sacracrity what that mean
Samantha Reply
vacation laughing meditiin joke I made if pasted I was going on vaction
1- how to determine the optimal level of output and price in the short run? 2-how to calculate the economic profit (loss) the firm will obtain(incure)in monopolistic competition faces short run demand and cost functions as Qd=20-0.5P and TC=4Q -8Q+15
Kalid Reply
its hair care firm but tinted it doesn't natraully grow in the two week spand so you put cap on top and or weave so it grow natural to cover a patch
what is asset ?
Rather Reply
something u own or valuable
In Accounting, asset is anything that is owned by the business.
economic item used for father more production
give the dimand equation QD=24-2p find the inverse dimand equation
it huge score its of hair care hydge
invest ment on one self
proudtion is product of personal apprences quality is guilty I go to the shop
sometimes I go to the shop my hair solono lady past
so I have quipt my self to handle thing of higher in quality my self
when there in avabilty
Or in avible
what asset my apprences is improvement is my its my priduct
falls under self growth and worth
what is Asset your market value of your top roman
Discuss the following questions in detail. 1, Suppose a firm operating under a perfectly competitve market structure is in its equilibrium. Does mean the firm is making excess profit?if no, show the possibilities regarding the amount of profit under equilibrium position. 2, Discuss the distinction b
Sura Reply
in long run a perfectly competitive firm is making only normal profits ,
Can I be part of this discussion?
of course
what is microeconomics
Jnana Reply
Workout. Show the steps clearly. 1, Suppose a firm in a perfectly competitive market structure has the following total cost function, ( TC=6000+4Q-24Q the power 2 + 4Q the power 3 ) if market ptice is 40, find A, Equilibrium level of output produced by the firm in order to maximize its profit. B,
Sura Reply
Discuss the following questions in detail. 1, Suppose a firm operating under a perfectly competitve market structure is in its equilibrium. Does mean the firm is making excess profit?if no, show the possibilities regarding the amount of profit under equilibrium position. 2, Discuss the distinction b
given the dimand equation QD=24-2p find the inverse dimand equation ?
Kadir Reply
you m.i.l subject
you know m.i.l subject
giveTc 10=+6Q-0 ,9Q2+0.05Q3 then calculated the following Tvc Avc ATC MC and AFC
shift in demand curve
Adeoye Reply
Hi Adeoye
nice to meet with you
Hello bhadwooo
why in monopolistic competition the demand curve shifts to the left
Wani Reply
Because the players are few and due to the fact that their products are differentiated, they have market influence on either price to be charged or quantity to be offered to the market
given Tc=10 +6Q-0,9Q2+0,05Q3 what is Tvc ? ATc ? mc?
Kadir Reply
Avc of produs 2units of output and mc of producing 6units of output and AFC
1- how to determine the optimal level of output and price in the short run? 2-how to calculate the economic profit (loss) the firm will obtain(incu...
why demand curve shifts to left in long run
Wani Reply
because in long run when the demand of product is more so price will be more and due to increase in price of quantity demanded will be less and demand curve will shift left gradually
Shift in demand curve is caused by a number of factors like taste, fashion, population amongst others and depending on whether the factors are positive or negative, that would determine the shift of the demand curve whether left or right and not whether short run or long run

Get the best Microeconomics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Microeconomics' conversation and receive update notifications?