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A kinked demand curve

The graph shows a kinked demand curve can result based on how an ologopoly expands or reduces output and how other firms react to these changes.
Consider a member firm in an oligopoly cartel that is supposed to produce a quantity of 10,000 and sell at a price of $500. The other members of the cartel can encourage this firm to honor its commitments by acting so that the firm faces a kinked demand curve. If the oligopolist attempts to expand output and reduce price slightly, other firms also cut prices immediately—so if the firm expands output to 11,000, the price per unit falls dramatically, to $300. On the other side, if the oligopoly attempts to raise its price, other firms will not do so, so if the firm raises its price to $550, its sales decline sharply to 5,000. Thus, the members of a cartel can discipline each other to stick to the pre-agreed levels of quantity and price through a strategy of matching all price cuts but not matching any price increases.

Many real-world oligopolies, prodded by economic changes, legal and political pressures, and the egos of their top executives, go through episodes of cooperation and competition. If oligopolies could sustain cooperation with each other on output and pricing, they could earn profits as if they were a single monopoly. However, each firm in an oligopoly has an incentive to produce more and grab a bigger share of the overall market; when firms start behaving in this way, the market outcome in terms of prices and quantity can be similar to that of a highly competitive market.

Tradeoffs of imperfect competition

Monopolistic competition is probably the single most common market structure in the U.S. economy. It provides powerful incentives for innovation, as firms seek to earn profits in the short run, while entry assures that firms do not earn economic profits in the long run. However, monopolistically competitive firms do not produce at the lowest point on their average cost curves. In addition, the endless search to impress consumers through product differentiation may lead to excessive social expenses on advertising and marketing.

Oligopoly is probably the second most common market structure. When oligopolies result from patented innovations or from taking advantage of economies of scale to produce at low average cost, they may provide considerable benefit to consumers. Oligopolies are often buffeted by significant barriers to entry, which enable the oligopolists to earn sustained profits over long periods of time. Oligopolists also do not typically produce at the minimum of their average cost curves. When they lack vibrant competition, they may lack incentives to provide innovative products and high-quality service.

The task of public policy with regard to competition is to sort through these multiple realities, attempting to encourage behavior that is beneficial to the broader society and to discourage behavior that only adds to the profits of a few large companies, with no corresponding benefit to consumers. Monopoly and Antitrust Policy discusses the delicate judgments that go into this task.

The temptation to defy the law

Oligopolistic firms have been called “cats in a bag,” as this chapter mentioned. The French detergent makers chose to “cozy up” with each other. The result? An uneasy and tenuous relationship. When the Wall Street Journal reported on the matter, it wrote: “According to a statement a Henkel manager made to the [French anti-trust] commission, the detergent makers wanted ‘to limit the intensity of the competition between them and clean up the market.’ Nevertheless, by the early 1990s, a price war had broken out among them.” During the soap executives’ meetings, which sometimes lasted more than four hours, complex pricing structures were established. “One [soap]executive recalled ‘chaotic’ meetings as each side tried to work out how the other had bent the rules.” Like many cartels, the soap cartel disintegrated due to the very strong temptation for each member to maximize its own individual profits.

How did this soap opera end? After an investigation, French antitrust authorities fined Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, and Proctor&Gamble a total of €361 million ($484 million). A similar fate befell the icemakers. Bagged ice is a commodity, a perfect substitute, generally sold in 7- or 22-pound bags. No one cares what label is on the bag. By agreeing to carve up the ice market, control broad geographic swaths of territory, and set prices, the icemakers moved from perfect competition to a monopoly model. After the agreements, each firm was the sole supplier of bagged ice to a region; there were profits in both the long run and the short run. According to the courts: “These companies illegally conspired to manipulate the marketplace.” Fines totaled about $600,000—a steep fine considering a bag of ice sells for under $3 in most parts of the United States.

Even though it is illegal in many parts of the world for firms to set prices and carve up a market, the temptation to earn higher profits makes it extremely tempting to defy the law.

Key concepts and summary

An oligopoly is a situation where a few firms sell most or all of the goods in a market. Oligopolists earn their highest profits if they can band together as a cartel and act like a monopolist by reducing output and raising price. Since each member of the oligopoly can benefit individually from expanding output, such collusion often breaks down—especially since explicit collusion is illegal.

The prisoner’s dilemma is an example of game theory. It shows how, in certain situations, all sides can benefit from cooperative behavior rather than self-interested behavior. However, the challenge for the parties is to find ways to encourage cooperative behavior.

Problems

Mary and Raj are the only two growers who provide organically grown corn to a local grocery store. They know that if they cooperated and produced less corn, they could raise the price of the corn. If they work independently, they will each earn $100. If they decide to work together and both lower their output, they can each earn $150. If one person lowers output and the other does not, the person who lowers output will earn $0 and the other person will capture the entire market and will earn $200. [link] represents the choices available to Mary and Raj. What is the best choice for Raj if he is sure that Mary will cooperate? If Mary thinks Raj will cheat, what should Mary do and why? What is the prisoner’s dilemma result? What is the preferred choice if they could ensure cooperation? A = Work independently; B = Cooperate and Lower Output. (Each results entry lists Raj’s earnings first, and Mary's earnings second.)

Mary
A B
Raj A ($100, $100) ($200, $0)
B ($0, $200) ($150, $150)

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Jane and Bill are apprehended for a bank robbery. They are taken into separate rooms and questioned by the police about their involvement in the crime. The police tell them each that if they confess and turn the other person in, they will receive a lighter sentence. If they both confess, they will be each be sentenced to 30 years. If neither confesses, they will each receive a 20-year sentence. If only one confesses, the confessor will receive 15 years and the one who stayed silent will receive 35 years. [link] below represents the choices available to Jane and Bill. If Jane trusts Bill to stay silent, what should she do? If Jane thinks that Bill will confess, what should she do? Does Jane have a dominant strategy? Does Bill have a dominant strategy? A = Confess; B = Stay Silent. (Each results entry lists Jane’s sentence first (in years), and Bill's sentence second.)

Jane
A B
Bill A (30, 30) (15, 35)
B (35, 15) (20, 20)

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References

The United States Department of Justice. “Antitrust Division.” Accessed October 17, 2013. http://www.justice.gov/atr/.

eMarketer.com. 2014. “Total US Ad Spending to See Largest Increase Since 2004: Mobile advertising leads growth; will surpass radio, magazines and newspapers this year. Accessed March 12, 2015. http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Total-US-Ad-Spending-See-Largest-Increase-Since-2004/1010982.

Federal Trade Commission. “About the Federal Trade Commission.” Accessed October 17, 2013. http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/about.shtm.

Questions & Answers

What are the typical patterns of GDP for a high-income economy like the United States in the long run and the short run?
mwangala Reply
What are the limitation and significant of macroeconomic
Usman Reply
explain the significance of concerpt of opportunity cost in planning
Mwanaid Reply
what is meant by the price elasticity of demand?
Martine Reply
What are the limitations of macroeconomic and their segnificant
Usman Reply
Discuss the role of competition in stimulating economic growth?
Daniel Reply
competition stimulate economic growth because in such types of economy,they is no monopoly power every supplier will want to produce to meet customers choice which brings about quality production and attract invested and customers into such economy
Koka
competition creates Monopoly because of economy of scale. it's not antithesis but different side of same coin
toko
competition result in high economic growth since every firm will intend to provide quality services and products to meet customers needs and requirements unlike in Monopoly situation where a firm just provide what it want to resulting in large stock piles of unwanted products ,ie inefficiency, howev
Mark
microeconomics study part of the economy but macroeconomic study the whole economy
Olokun Reply
studying the whole economy, solving the problem of the economy and building up the economy
Olokun
micro means small while macro means large
Olokun
standard of living is the footsteps of an economy because it plays important role for country to have crucial view about their budget ,import and export
Olokun
it will be differ because economic agent will only take their views on some part of household
Olokun
can opportunity cost be zero
OBED Reply
how many types of transportation do we have
Jacob
yes. when a customer's purchasing power is high, he may have d ability to purchase all he needs, dt makes opportunity cost zero
George
please can give more explanation on this question
OBED
what are the factors production
PETER Reply
Labour capital entrepreneurs
Leta
Land,capital, labour,and the entrepreneur
Tantoh
I will like to know use of calculus in economics
JHUMA Reply
do they use it in economics?
Pranav
I want to know if I should take calculus or statistics and probability my senior year of highschool
Yahir
yes for example in monopolistic competitive market..... TR=TC* & THIS CALCULATED BY CHANGING( DERIVATIVE LAW) MR =MC ** WILL BE THE FORMULA THAT USE.
Leta
please in which topic in economic is the question coming from.
Tantoh
from PCF in economics
Leta
why is unitary proportional to responsiveness
Etim Reply
any tip for igcse economics exam?pls
Stacey Reply
well
The
What is a market
Divine Reply
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
what are the variables that affect demand
Divine
price of the related goods 2 price of the given commodity 3 income of the consumer 4 taste and preference 5 expectation in the future price
John
pls the taste and preference
Nas
explain briefly
Nas
a consumer taste and preference commodity changes for a time the man becomes
John
sorry sorry
John
is when the price of a commodity becomes high and can't afford example Samsung instead of iPhone
John
consumers who have high intense for goods will purchase the goods even if the price of that commodity increases because he or she preferred that commodity.people will be prefer iphone as its price increase
Yussif
as usual bad taste of preference is when a consumer regrets from one commodity to another in terms of the price
John
thanks alot
Nas
you're welcome
John
#Preference; #Income #Test
Dereje
#price Of Commodity #Income #Taste #Preference
Dereje
#Market is The Place Where Buyers And Sellers Are Exchanging Their Goods And service. #
Dereje
difference between macro and micro economics
Lawrence
Microeconomic Study about individual consumers market But Macroeconomis Study General economic Process Such As #Aggregate Demand #Aggregate Supples #GDp= #GNp
Dereje
nice so can u run down a brife discussion on GDP
Lawrence
good
Chinex
pls can someone differentiate between the perfectly elastic, perfectly inelastic and unitary
yhar Reply
and then again pls what are the types of elasticity, the methods of calculating it thank u
yhar
Perfectly inelastic is when the coefficient is equal to zero Unitary is when the coefficient is equal to one But am not sure if we have perfectly inelastic
John
I'm kind off confuse abt the PED, IED and co are they the types of elasticity we've
yhar
Yh the types are price elasticity cross and income elasticity of demand
John
do we've specific formulaes to calculate for each of them
yhar
yes. PED. changes in quantity demanded divided by changes in price
Vealmurugan
so pls what's the general name given to unitary, elastic n inelastic ? are the names given to the final result after doing the calculations?
yhar
P2-P1÷P1×100or Q2-Q1×Q1×100 PED
John
***tutor2u.net/economics/reference/price-elasticity-of-demand
Vealmurugan
They are elasticity coefficient
John
@John I don't get u well pls
yhar
whichone
John
P2-P1÷P1×100or Q2-Q1×Q1×100 PED @john pls tis is what m talking abt
yhar
Yh is the formula for PED
John
Pls are you having a for PED
John
thank u very
yhar
dy
Jobang
what is economics
Tayyeb
economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative use
John
is a science which study human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses
Divine
yes this is because economic provide a body of knowledge on human economic principles under theories and these theories can be verified with real world data using science method in other words it was scientific method in arriving at solution identification of problem or basic data collection among
John
unitary ElasticWhen Elasticty =1 Perfectily Elastic When 0<1 inelastic when 0>
Dereje
Pls is anyone having the NovDec questions?
John Reply
No
Emmanuel

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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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