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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?

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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?

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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

in 2021 Amazon reduced the annual subscription fee for its prime membership service which provides free two_day shipping on many goods and other benefits, from $119 to $99. Zoppa consulting, an investment firm estimated that before the price reduction, prime had 62million subscribers globally. If so, what is the arc elasticity of demand for a prime membership.
Joan Reply
Differences between microeconomics and macroeconomics
tatiana Reply
Macroeconomics deal with the economy as a whole.that is an economy affect the firm ,government and the households eg.unemployment, whilst Microeconomics deal with the the decision making of households,firm and government separately.
what is Economics
Ebem Reply
the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth and has Influence by sociology!!!!
Economics is the study of how humans make decisions when they want to fulfil their requirements and desires for goods, services and resources.
Economics is the study how humans make decisions in the faces of scarcity.
economic is the study of how human make decision in the fact of scarcity.
Economics is a social science which study human behavior as a relationship between earn and scarce mean which have alternative uses
what is market structure
market structure in economics depicts how firms are differentiated and categorised based on types of goods they sell and how their operations are affected by external factors and elements.
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what is demand
Gooluck Reply
demand is the willingness to purchase something
demand is the potential ability or williness to purchases something at a particular price at a given period of time..
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time. Demand can also be defined as the desire backed by ability to purchase .
what is demand
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is the production of goods in scarcity
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time.
what is demand of supply
music Reply
What is the meaning of supply of labour
Anthonia Reply
what is production?
Elizabeth Reply
Production is basically the creation of goods and services to satisfy human wants
under what condition will demand curve slope upward from left to right instead of normally sloping downward from left to right
Atama Reply
how i can calculate elasticity?
Tewekel Reply
What is real wages
Emmanuella Reply
what are the concept of cost
Tabitha Reply
what is the difference between want and choice
Grace Reply
Want is a desire to have something while choice is the ability to select or choose a perticular good or services you desire to have at a perticular point in time.
substitutes and complements
Amman Reply
Substitute are goods that can replace another good but complements goods that can be combined together
account for persistent increase in lnflation
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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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