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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish between a natural monopoly and a legal monopoly.
  • Explain how economies of scale and the control of natural resources led to the necessary formation of legal monopolies
  • Analyze the importance of trademarks and patents in promoting innovation
  • Identify examples of predatory pricing

Because of the lack of competition, monopolies tend to earn significant economic profits. These profits should attract vigorous competition as described in Perfect Competition , and yet, because of one particular characteristic of monopoly, they do not. Barriers to entry are the legal, technological, or market forces that discourage or prevent potential competitors from entering a market. Barriers to entry can range from the simple and easily surmountable, such as the cost of renting retail space, to the extremely restrictive. For example, there are a finite number of radio frequencies available for broadcasting. Once the rights to all of them have been purchased, no new competitors can enter the market.

In some cases, barriers to entry may lead to monopoly. In other cases, they may limit competition to a few firms. Barriers may block entry even if the firm or firms currently in the market are earning profits. Thus, in markets with significant barriers to entry, it is not true that abnormally high profits will attract new firms, and that this entry of new firms will eventually cause the price to decline so that surviving firms earn only a normal level of profit in the long run.

There are two types of monopoly, based on the types of barriers to entry they exploit. One is natural monopoly    , where the barriers to entry are something other than legal prohibition. The other is legal monopoly    , where laws prohibit (or severely limit) competition.

Natural monopoly

Economies of scale can combine with the size of the market to limit competition. (This theme was introduced in Cost and Industry Structure ). [link] presents a long-run average cost curve for the airplane manufacturing industry. It shows economies of scale up to an output of 8,000 planes per year and a price of P 0 , then constant returns to scale from 8,000 to 20,000 planes per year, and diseconomies of scale at a quantity of production greater than 20,000 planes per year.

Now consider the market demand curve in the diagram, which intersects the long-run average cost (LRAC) curve at an output level of 6,000 planes per year and at a price P 1 , which is higher than P 0 . In this situation, the market has room for only one producer. If a second firm attempts to enter the market at a smaller size, say by producing a quantity of 4,000 planes, then its average costs will be higher than the existing firm, and it will be unable to compete. If the second firm attempts to enter the market at a larger size, like 8,000 planes per year, then it could produce at a lower average cost—but it could not sell all 8,000 planes that it produced because of insufficient demand in the market.

Economies of scale and natural monopoly

The graph represents a natural monopoly as evidenced by the demand curve intersecting with the downward-sloping part of the LRAC curve.
In this market, the demand curve intersects the long-run average cost (LRAC) curve at its downward-sloping part. A natural monopoly occurs when the quantity demanded is less than the minimum quantity it takes to be at the bottom of the long-run average cost curve.

Questions & Answers

is it true that the opportunity cost of unemployed labour is zero?
Wisdom Reply
give two forms of collusion
nondumiso Reply
1.Explicit Collusion: Also termed overt collusion, this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry formally agree to control the market .
2.Implicit Collusion: Also termed tacit collusion, this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry informally agree to control the market, often through nothing more than interdependent actions. A prime example of implicit collusion is price leadership .
explicit collusion: this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry legally agree to control the market
implicit collusion this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry illegally agree to control the market
what is responsible for investigating cases of collusion
reasons why a country maybe involved in international trade
Nde Reply
state five similarities and differences between money market and capital market
Victoria Reply
Give a Zimbabwean example of firms operating in an oligopoly market and illustrate using diagrams how a manager in such a market maximize profit
Pam Reply
what is an industry
EWAH Reply
An industry is the production of goods and related services within an economy
an industry is place where goods and services are produced for human consumption....
scarcity is the major course of economics problems. discuss
Abdulhameed Reply
please say about that it is interesting for us
what is economics
Michael Reply
economics is a social sciences that deals with the production distribution and consumption of goods and services produced.its study of behaviour between economic agents
what is the formula for elasticity of demand
change in demand/change in variable variable may be price, income,
seasonal unemployment
Enoch Reply
example agriculture
want and scarcity
why the average of revenue AR fun
What is monopoli
Gadrey Reply
What is monopoly
monipoly ..where one firm controls all the market
what is demand
Jafar Reply
demand is what one willing and enable to purchase at a given price over period of a time.
what is marginal revenue
distinguish between commercialization and industrialization
Alhassan Reply
why division of labour increase economy level of production
Henry Reply
what is opportunity coast
Henry Reply
a benefit profit or value of something that must be given up to acquire achieve something else
why do indifference curves never cross (5 marks)
angela Reply
bcoz its gives a same level of satisfaction...when indifference curve cross intersect each other......then their is condition arise less than n more than
indifference curves cannote intersect each other .At the point of tendency the heighr curve two tendency the lower indifferent curve
what are the reasons why a country maybe involved in international trade
due to differences in technology,resource endowment,climate, culture and experiences and comparative advantage.

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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