Monopoly Versus Perfect Markets

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This paper investigates the two extremes of market structures. A monopoly firm, and a firm which operates in a perfectly competitive market. We will compare features, similarities, differences, advantages and disadvantages. The monopoly firm I have chosen is Thames Water. This company is an accurate example, as it’s the sole supplier of the industry. The firm, is the industry. Thames Water supply water through peoples taps in and around London. Fyffe is my chosen firm in a perfectly competitive market. I think this is a good example. It sells bananas to supermarkets and food suppliers, who resell on to customers. The next two paragraphs explain the features of perfect competition, then a monopoly.

“The theory of perfect competition illustrates an extreme form of capitalism.” (Sloman, 2007:113) There are many suppliers, who all only supply and produce a small fraction of the total output, of the whole industry. None of the firms have any power over the market.(Mankiw, 2001) Barriers to entry do not exist. Therefore firms can enter and leave the market freely. Apart from the money and time it takes to set up the business, there are no other obstacles. Both producers and consumers have perfect knowledge of the market. Therefore they both know prices which should be paid, quality which should be met, availability of the product. Market opportunities for expansion, and entry opportunities in the industry as a whole. The price Fyffe must charge for their bananas will depend upon the demand and supply of the whole market, not just Fyffe personal demand. Hence they have no power over prices. They must follow the market forces.(Sloman, 2007)Established firms in the banana industry have no advantage over firms who have newly entered the market.(Parkin, Powell, Matthews)“This means they can sell all the products they can produce at the market price, but none at a price which is higher.” (Sloman, 2007:114) If Fyffe raise their selling price above p1, their demand will drop to 0, because if Fyffe raise the price of their bananas, consumers will just buy from another firm selling at the current market price. Illustrated in diagram 2. (Beardshaw, 2001) All firms operating in the banana industry sell a homogenous product, all the firms in the industry sell an identical banana. The theory states there is not a great need for advertising or branding. (McConnell, 2008) I would agree with this statement in the context of bananas. Advertising is not needed as people will not look for a specific brand of banana. They all taste the same. However I think a firm in a market selling shampoos and conditioners would need a certain amount of branding and advertising so people choose their product and gain customer loyalty. In the shampoo industry products are not as homogenous.

A pure monopoly owns 100% of the industry. Thames water have a great deal of power, and are price makers, thus they set the price to how much they want to charge. If the consumer cannot, or doesn’t want to pay the price, they have to go without the tap water. In the short run both perfect competition and monopolies can make economic profits, losses and supernormal profits. Only monopolies can manage to sustain super normal profits in the long run. “Persistant economic profits are called monopoly profits.” (Dobson, 2005:99) Monopolies can sustain supernormal profits and remain safe and unaffected by competition due to barriers to entry. Supply to the industry does not increase with new entrants. (Hunt, 1990). There are many types of barriers to entry. Thames water is known as a natural monopoly, meaning there are barriers to entry due to large economies of scale. (Sloman, 2007) Capital equipment is so expensive and large scale that only one sole supplier could manage to make a profit in the water industry. However Thames Water incurred low marginal costs once they are set up. “If average cost falls as output increases over the entire range of market demand its a natural...
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