Degrees of Market Power and Policy April 12, 2013
Announcements• Problem Set 2 due Monday!• TAs will go over in section next week.
Last Class• Studied how to derive monopoly profits in- depth. – Find Q using MR and MC – Calculate profits using ATC
Learning Goals for Today• Show how price discriminating monopoly surplus differs from generic monopolies.• Describe how oligopoly and monopolistic competition differ from monopoly.• Offer policy recommendations for dealing with monopolies.
Recall: General Form of Monopoly Problems• Given: – Fixed Costs – Production Function: Generally Q=KaL1-a – Variable Costs: w for L and r for K – Demand• Derive: – TC, ATC, MC given Fixed Costs, Prod Func, and Var costs – MR given Demand – Profit-max. condition and Profit given the above – Surplus
Price Discrimination• Thus far we have assumed all buyers charged the same.• Price Discrimination: The practice of charging different buyers different prices for essentially the same good.• How does price discrimination affect output and profits? P P CS DWL PS PS MC=ATC MC=ATC MR D D Q Q Perfectly Price Single-Price Monopolist Discriminating Monopolist
Example: ``Hurdle.’’• Rebates: The assumption is that people with high reservation prices are wealthy and that the opportunity cost of their time is too high to be bothered to fill out the paperwork to get the rebate.
Which of the following is price discrimination?A. EfficientB. GoodC. InefficientD. BadE. Can’t Say
Other types of firms with market power• Are there firms that have some, but not complete market power?• Think in terms of the assumptions we made for perfect competition. Which are violated under what conditions? – All firms sell the same (really the same!) product. – There are many buyers and sellers. – There are no costly barriers to starting a business. – Both consumers and firms are well-informed.
Monopolistic Competition A market in which a large number of firms sell products that are close (but not perfect) substitutes.Examples?Have some ability to raise price in the short-run, but free entry willlead to zero (economic) profits in the long run.Most important strategic decision: how to differentiate productsfrom rivals’ products?Markup
Oligopoly A market in which a small number of large firms sell products that are either close or perfect substitutes.Examples?Usually arise because of cost advantages of being large—thus, no presumption that free entry will drive profits tozero, but no guarantee that oligopolists will earn zero profits.
Consider two oligopolists. If one is charging the price a monopoly wouldchoose, the other should charge which of the following to profit-maximize?A. A higher PB. The same PC. A lower P
Government Regulation• When we think about government regulation, we primarily think about regulation of natural monopolies. Why?• Five sources of market power 1. Exclusive control of inputs 2. Patents and copyrights 3. Government licenses 4. Economies of Scale Can sometimes be thought of as the same thing—both 5. Network Economies give rise to natural monopolies
Government Regulation• State ownership of natural monopolies. – Only one private company can survive—average costs are too high when multiple firms are in the market. – Solution: government takes over, sets P=MC and then absorbs any loss (paid for by taxes). – Potential problems: • Will government-run firm be cost efficient? • Where do tax revenues come from?
Government Regulation• State regulation of natural monopolies (common in the U.S.). – Most states regulate electric utilities, natural gas providers, and cable television companies. – Cost-plus regulation: figure out the monopolists explicit costs and then allow them to charge that plus some markup. – Problems 1. Often difficult to determine a firm’s costs 2. Blunts firm’s incentive to cut costs.
Government Regulation• Allow private firms to bid for the right to provide the goods and services that would be provided by a natural monopoly. – Competition maintains firms’ incentives to cut costs. – Problems: may not be feasible in cases where production requires a large fixed investment in capital equipment— how do you transfer the equipment if another firm wins the bid? – Many cities increasing considering or using private contractors to provide garbage collection, fire protection, police protection, EMS, landscaping etc.
Ignore Monopolies?• Price discrimination implies that monopolists are making much of their profit from buyers who are willing and able to pay higher prices.• Much of monopolists’ profits goes to the federal government via the corporate income tax, and this money can be used to fund a variety of government programs.• On the other hand, imperfect price discrimination will not lead to an efficient outcome—so we still need to be concerned.
For next time• Finish problem set• Try to grasp Nash equilibria from the reading• We will begin with oligopolist game