Markets in Practice
Market structures affect the economic outcomes for producers and consumers. Students investigate the features of the following market structures: perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and monopoly. (Note that a knowledge of cost and revenue curves is not required.) Students evaluate market structures in terms of meeting the needs of consumers and producers, using criteria that include price, choice, quality, efficiency, profitability, and use of new technology. Students investigate the effects of market failure on consumers and producers, including the under-provision of public goods, the existence of positive and negative externalities, and the impact of uncompetitive markets. Students evaluate measures to redress market failure and investigate a range of market decisions and outcomes that are inconsistent with social, moral, and ethical values.
perfect competition - the economics of competitive markets
The degree to which a market or industry can be described as competitive depends in part on how many suppliers are seeking the demand of consumers and the ease with which new businesses can enter and exit a particular market in the long run. The spectrum of competition ranges from highly competitive markets where there are many sellers, each of whom has little or no control over the market price - to a situation of pure monopoly where a market or an industry is dominated by one single supplier who enjoys considerable discretion in setting prices, unless subject to some form of direct regulation by the government. In many sectors of the economy markets are best described by the term oligopoly - where a few producers dominate the majority of the market and the industry is highly concentrated. In a duopoly two firms dominate the market although there may be many smaller players in the industry. Competitive markets operate on the basis of a number of assumptions. When these assumptions are dropped - we move into the world of imperfect competition. These assumptions are discussed below Assumptions behind a Perfectly Competitive Market
1. Many suppliers each with an insignificant share of the market – this means that each firm is too small relative to the overall market to affect price via a change in its own supply – each individual firm is assumed to be a price taker 2. An identical output produced by each firm – in other words, the market supplies homogeneous or standardised products that are perfect substitutes for each other. Consumers perceive the products to be identical 3. Consumers have perfect information about the prices all sellers in the market charge – so if some firms decide to charge a price higher than the ruling market price, there will be a large substitution effect away from this firm 4. All firms (industry participants and new entrants) are assumed to have equal access to resources (technology, other factor inputs) and improvements in production technologies achieved by one firm can spill-over to all the other suppliers in the market 5. There are assumed to be no barriers to entry & exit of firms in long run – which means that the market is open to competition from new suppliers – this affects the long run profits made by each firm in the industry. The long run equilibrium for a perfectly competitive market occurs when the marginal firm makes normal profit only in the long term 6. No externalities in production and consumption so that there is no divergence between private and social costs and benefits
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In neoclassical economics and microeconomics, perfect competition describes a market in which there are many small firms, all producing homogeneous goods. In the short term, such markets are productively inefficient as output will not occur where mc is equal to ac, but allocatively efficient, as output under perfect competition will always occur where mc is equal to mr,...
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