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Government limitations on competition used to be even more common in the United States. For most of the twentieth century, only one phone company—AT&T—was legally allowed to provide local and long distance service. From the 1930s to the 1970s, one set of federal regulations limited which destinations airlines could choose to fly to and what fares they could charge; another set of regulations limited the interest rates that banks could pay to depositors; yet another specified what trucking firms could charge customers.

What products are considered utilities depends, in part, on the available technology. Fifty years ago, local and long distance telephone service was provided over wires. It did not make much sense to have multiple companies building multiple systems of wiring across towns and across the country. AT&T lost its monopoly on long distance service when the technology for providing phone service changed from wires to microwave and satellite transmission, so that multiple firms could use the same transmission mechanism. The same thing happened to local service, especially in recent years, with the growth in cellular phone systems.

The combination of improvements in production technologies and a general sense that the markets could provide services adequately led to a wave of deregulation    , starting in the late 1970s and continuing into the 1990s. This wave eliminated or reduced government restrictions on the firms that could enter, the prices that could be charged, and the quantities that could be produced in many industries, including telecommunications, airlines, trucking, banking, and electricity.

Around the world, from Europe to Latin America to Africa and Asia, many governments continue to control and limit competition in what those governments perceive to be key industries, including airlines, banks, steel companies, oil companies, and telephone companies.

Vist this website for examples of some pretty bizarre patents.

Intimidating potential competition

Businesses have developed a number of schemes for creating barriers to entry by deterring potential competitors from entering the market. One method is known as predatory pricing    , in which a firm uses the threat of sharp price cuts to discourage competition. Predatory pricing is a violation of U.S. antitrust law, but it is difficult to prove.

Consider a large airline that provides most of the flights between two particular cities. A new, small start-up airline decides to offer service between these two cities. The large airline immediately slashes prices on this route to the bone, so that the new entrant cannot make any money. After the new entrant has gone out of business, the incumbent firm can raise prices again.

After this pattern is repeated once or twice, potential new entrants may decide that it is not wise to try to compete. Small airlines often accuse larger airlines of predatory pricing: in the early 2000s, for example, ValuJet accused Delta of predatory pricing, Frontier accused United, and Reno Air accused Northwest. In 2015, the Justice Department ruled against American Express and Mastercard for imposing restrictions on retailers who encouraged customers to use lower swipe fees on credit transactions.

In some cases, large advertising budgets can also act as a way of discouraging the competition. If the only way to launch a successful new national cola drink is to spend more than the promotional budgets of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, not too many companies will try. A firmly established brand name can be difficult to dislodge.

Summing up barriers to entry

[link] lists the barriers to entry that have been discussed here. This list is not exhaustive, since firms have proved to be highly creative in inventing business practices that discourage competition. When barriers to entry exist, perfect competition is no longer a reasonable description of how an industry works. When barriers to entry are high enough, monopoly can result.

Barriers to entry
Barrier to Entry Government Role? Example
Natural monopoly Government often responds with regulation (or ownership) Water and electric companies
Control of a physical resource No DeBeers for diamonds
Legal monopoly Yes Post office, past regulation of airlines and trucking
Patent, trademark, and copyright Yes, through protection of intellectual property New drugs or software
Intimidating potential competitors Somewhat Predatory pricing; well-known brand names

Key concepts and summary

Barriers to entry prevent or discourage competitors from entering the market. These barriers include: economies of scale that lead to natural monopoly; control of a physical resource; legal restrictions on competition; patent, trademark and copyright protection; and practices to intimidate the competition like predatory pricing. Intellectual property refers to legally guaranteed ownership of an idea, rather than a physical item. The laws that protect intellectual property include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. A natural monopoly arises when economies of scale persist over a large enough range of output that if one firm supplies the entire market, no other firm can enter without facing a cost disadvantage.


Return to [link] . Suppose P 0 is $10 and P 1 is $11. Suppose a new firm with the same LRAC curve as the incumbent tries to break into the market by selling 4,000 units of output. Estimate from the graph what the new firm’s average cost of producing output would be. If the incumbent continues to produce 6,000 units, how much output would be supplied to the market by the two firms? Estimate what would happen to the market price as a result of the supply of both the incumbent firm and the new entrant. Approximately how much profit would each firm earn?

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Questions & Answers

define law of demand and draw demand curve
Naseer Reply
state that the higher the price of a product the lower the quantity demanded
what is the price elasticity of demand a unit free measure of the sensitivity of the quantity demand to a price change?
ada Reply
what is normative economics
kanakadurga Reply
In normative economics we try to understand whether a mechanism is desirable or not.
consider the market for chocolate chip cookies .suppose there is an increase in the price of cake flour used in the production of chocolate chip cookies . Demonstrate graphically and explain the effects this will have on the equilibrium price and quantity of chocolate chip cookies.
Costa Reply
what is price demand?
Alamin Reply
what is the price demand ?
what is cardinal approach?
importance of elasticity to an economy
Nayiga Reply
what is elasticity
Costa Reply
elasticity refers to the measurement of a percentage change of one economic variable in response to a change in another. Primarily, this percentage change will follow a change in price relative to changes in other factors.
When desire of goods increases what is the respond of its prices?
abubakar Reply
Then definitely price of Good will increase, As Demand has direct relation with the price
Qd=200 and Qs=5+2p . find the equilibrium price and quantity
Margret Reply
what is mean by 2 p
as Q is Quantity d for demand and S for supply and what is p stand for
at equilibrium quantity demand is equal to quantity supply therefore Qd=Q's 200-p=5+2p 200-5=2p+p 195=3p p = 65 thus equilibrium price is equal to 65 and equilibrium quantity is equal to 195
2 p means price of product is 2
what is de law of demand
All other things been equal, the law of states that the higher the price of a commodity the higher the quantity demanded. Vice versa
the law of demand state that as the price of the goods increase the quantity demand decrease. considering all other factor to be constant.
Qd= 200 and Qs= -5+2p .how do you find the equilibrium price and quantity?
Margret Reply
what are the demands of this Question ... and how do i answer it ? ... Some occupations such as nursing are vital but are paid very little .Other such as financial advisor are not vital but are paid highly. How far the economic theory explain this situation?
Kudakwashe Reply
Is my answer correct or not?
how do we derive an engel curve?
Dhurani Reply
what is sur plce price?
mran Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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