<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Defining a market    is often controversial. For example, Microsoft in the early 2000s had a dominant share of the software for computer operating systems. However, in the total market for all computer software and services, including everything from games to scientific programs, the Microsoft share was only about 14% in 2014. A narrowly defined market will tend to make concentration appear higher, while a broadly defined market will tend to make it appear smaller.

There are two especially important shifts affecting how markets are defined in recent decades: one centers on technology and the other centers on globalization    . In addition, these two shifts are interconnected. With the vast improvement in communications technologies, including the development of the Internet, a consumer can order books or pet supplies from all over the country or the world. As a result, the degree of competition many local retail businesses face has increased. The same effect may operate even more strongly in markets for business supplies, where so-called “business-to-business” websites can allow buyers and suppliers from anywhere in the world to find each other.

Globalization has changed the boundaries of markets. As recently as the 1970s, it was common for measurements of concentration ratios and HHIs to stop at national borders. Now, many industries find that their competition comes from the global market. A few decades ago, three companies, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, dominated the U.S. auto market. By 2014, however, these three firms were making less than half of U.S. auto sales, and facing competition from well-known car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, and Mazda. When HHIs are calculated with a global perspective, concentration in most major industries—including cars—is lower than in a purely domestic context.

Because attempting to define a particular market can be difficult and controversial, the Federal Trade Commission has begun to look less at market share and more at the data on actual competition between businesses. For example, in February 2007, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Market announced that they wished to merge. These were the two largest companies in the market that the government defined as “premium natural and organic supermarket chains.” However, one could also argue that they were two relatively small companies in the broader market for all stores that sell groceries or specialty food products.

Rather than relying on a market definition, the government antitrust regulators looked at detailed evidence on profits and prices for specific stores in different cities, both before and after other competitive stores entered or exited. Based on that evidence, the Federal Trade Commission decided to block the merger. After two years of legal battles, the merger was eventually allowed in 2009 under the conditions that Whole Foods sell off the Wild Oats brand name and a number of individual stores, to preserve competition in certain local markets. For more on the difficulties of defining markets, refer to Monopoly .

This new approach to antitrust regulation involves detailed analysis of specific markets and companies, instead of defining a market and counting up total sales. A common starting point is for antitrust regulators to use statistical tools and real-world evidence to estimate the demand curves and supply curves faced by the firms that are proposing the merger. A second step is to specify how competition occurs in this specific industry. Some possibilities include competing to cut prices, to raise output, to build a brand name through advertising, and to build a reputation for good service or high quality. With these pieces of the puzzle in place, it is then possible to build a statistical model that estimates the likely outcome for consumers if the two firms are allowed to merge. Of course, these models do require some degree of subjective judgment, and so they can become the subject of legal disputes between the antitrust authorities and the companies that wish to merge.

Key concepts and summary

A corporate merger involves two private firms joining together. An acquisition refers to one firm buying another firm. In either case, two formerly independent firms become one firm. Antitrust laws seek to ensure active competition in markets, sometimes by preventing large firms from forming through mergers and acquisitions, sometimes by regulating business practices that might restrict competition, and sometimes by breaking up large firms into smaller competitors.

A four-firm concentration ratio is one way of measuring the extent of competition in a market. It is calculated by adding the market shares—that is, the percentage of total sales—of the four largest firms in the market. A Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) is another way of measuring the extent of competition in a market. It is calculated by taking the market shares of all firms in the market, squaring them, and then summing the total.

The forces of globalization and new communications and information technology have increased the level of competition faced by many firms by increasing the amount of competition from other regions and countries.

Problems

Use [link] to calculate the four-firm concentration ratio for the U.S. auto market. Does this indicate a concentrated market or not?

(Source: http://www.zacks.com/commentary/27690/auto-industry-stock-outlook-june-2013)
Global auto manufacturers with top four u.s. market share, june 2013
GM 19%
Ford 17%
Toyota 14%
Chrysler 11%
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Use [link] and [link] to calculate the Herfindal-Hirschman Index for the U.S. auto market. Would the FTC approve a merger between GM and Ford?

(Source: http://www.zacks.com/commentary/27690/auto-industry-stock-outlook-june-2013)
Global auto manufacturers with additional u.s. market share, june 2013
Honda 10%
Nissan 7%
Hyundai 5%
Kia 4%
Subaru 3%
Volkswagen 3%
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

What would you say about the the mobility of enterprise as a factor of production?
Cathryn Reply
how can I connect myself to this Ambrose platform
kanu Reply
I am good and you I am from sierra Leone and I am new her
kanu Reply
u are welcome bro, here is a good platform for you to be
Alie
That i know,thanks bro.
what the main definition of economic
Uhara Reply
Essay about Microsoft
Kwena Reply
what is economics
Julie Reply
what do you mean by means in economics
Julie
economic is the wealth of a country.
Moussa
monetary policy is refer to as being expansionary or contractionary.
Abdul
pls who can help me to explain money market and capital market
Au
money market is base on short term loan which is within one year period while capital market is long term loan more than one year...
Muhammad
money market is a market were short term loans are dealt with while capital market is a market were long term loans are traded
Ebrima
What is mean by monetory policy
Lovely
monetary polices are rules that control the rate of monetary exchange in an economic as a whole.
Ebrima
wealth of the nation
Uhara
important of unemployment
Otwe Reply
Important of unemployed
Otwe
important?
Aneela
what is meaning scarcity
ABDULLAHI Reply
Scarcity can be define as human wants to goods,services,resources for exceed of what is available
Uhara
hi guys
Ibrahim
How are you
Abdul
what is consumer
Brenda Reply
how do consumer help people
Brenda
by export trading
Jayah
How do you mean Jayah
Danjuma
what is different between price and quantity
Yakubu
what is MRS
Rashid
definition of economics according to Adam Smith
Ijeoma Reply
economic is a wealth of nation
Au
in the view of Adam Smith economics is the study of activities of people in production of wealth
suresh
What do you really think is the remedy for scarcity in Nigeria 🇳🇬
John Reply
different the term economics
zfekere Reply
importance of studying economics
Haruna Reply
importance of economics
Haruna
different the term economics
zfekere
mixed economic
tadesse
you have just been appointed in the director of finance for your state internal revenue board with the knowledge of elasticity advice the state government on how the I.G.R of the state could be raised through exercise duties bearing in mind the implication and incident of taxing setting products
Kenechukwu Reply
Hello,Thanks for your replay
Esmael
fine
IDRIS
mention 5 characteristics of traditional societies
Pono Reply
dominance of agriculture and ignorance of development avenues are some characteristics of traditional societies.
sade

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask