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Monopolistic Competition & Oligopoly

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  1. Monopolistic Competition & Oligopoly • Key Concepts • Summary ©2005 South-Western College Publishing

  2. What will I learn in this chapter? This chapter will help you understand the impact of monopolistic competition and oligopoly market structures on the price and output decisions of real-world firms.

  3. What isimperfect competition? A market structure between the extremes of perfect competition and monopoly

  4. What is monopolistic competition? • many small sellers • differentiated product • easy entry and exit

  5. What isproduct differentiation? The process of creating real or apparent differences between goods and services


  6. What does many small sellers mean? Each firm is so small relative to the total market that each firm’s pricing decisions have a negligible effect on the market price

  7. What isnonprice competition? A firm competes using advertising, packaging, product development, better service, rather than lower prices

  8. How easy is entry and exit in monopolistic competition? Not as easy as in perfect competition because of product differentiation

  9. Why is a monopolistic competitive firm a price maker? Product differentiation gives the firm some control over its price

  10. What does the demand curve for monopolistic competition look like? It is less elastic (steeper) than for a perfectly competitive firm and more elastic (flatter) than for a monopolist

  11. What are examples of monopolistic competition? • grocery stores • hair salons • gas stations • video rental stores • restaurants

  12. How effective is advertising? Somewhat effective in the short-run but less effective in the long-run

  13. What effect does advertising have on average costs? It raises the long-run average cost curve

  14. P The effect of Advertising $4.00 With advertising $3.50 $3.00 LRAC2 Cost per unit $2.50 $2.00 $1.50 LRAC1 $1.00 Without advertising $.50 Q 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

  15. How does a firm decide what price to charge and how many units to produce? MR = MC

  16. P $40 MR=MC MC $35 $30 $25 ATC $20 Profit $15 AVC $10 D $5 MR Q 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

  17. Why is a normal profit made in the long-run? The combination of the leftward shift in the firm’s demand curve and the upward shift in the LRAC curve

  18. P Normal Profit $40 $35 MC $30 LRAC $25 $20 AVC $15 $10 D $5 MR Q 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

  19. How efficient is monopolistic competition? Less resources are used and a higher price is charged than would be the case under perfect competition

  20. P Monopolistic Competition $40 $35 Minimum LRAC $30 MC $25 ATC $20 AVC $15 $10 D $5 MR Q 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

  21. P Perfect Competition $40 Minimum LRAC MC LRAC $35 $30 MR $25 Price & Cost per unit $20 $15 $10 $5 Q 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

  22. What isone way monopolistic competition compares to perfect competition? Price is higher and quantity is lower in monopolistic competition

  23. Why isprice higher and quantity lower in monopolistic competition? Because of the downward sloping demand curve and the MR curve that is beneath the demand curve and more steeply sloped

  24. How efficient is monopolistic competition? Less resources are used and a higher price is charged than would be the case under perfect competition

  25. What is an oligopoly? In an oligopolistic market there are: • few sellers • a differential product • difficulties of market entry

  26. How few are a few sellers? When the firms are so large relative to the total market that they can affect the market price

  27. What is a significant barrier to entry? Economies of scale

  28. What isnonprice competition? Competition in ways other than pricing policies

  29. What is the distinguishing feature of oligopoly? mutual interdependence

  30. What is mutual interdependence? A condition in which an action by one firm may cause a reaction on the part of other firms

  31. What does mutual interdependence do to the demand curve? A kinked demand curve is a possible result of this characteristic

  32. What does a kinked demand curve show? It shows that rivals will match a firm’s price decrease, but ignore a price increase

  33. P Oligopolist’s Kinked Demand Curve $400 $350 Rivals ignore price changes $300 $250 $200 $150 $100 Rivals match price changes $50 Q 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45

  34. How do oligopolists determine price? They play the game “follow the leader” that economists call price leadership

  35. What isprice leadership? A pricing strategy in which a dominant firm sets the price for an industry and the other firms follow

  36. What is a cartel? A group of firms formally agreeing to control the price and output of a product

  37. What are examples of cartels? • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) • International Telephone Cartel (CCITT) • International Airline Cartel (IATA)

  38. What is the major weakness of a cartel? Member firms cheating

  39. P Why a Cartel Member Has an Incentive to Cheat $40 MC LRAC $35 $30 MR2 $25 Price & Cost per unit $20 MR1 $15 $10 $5 Q 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

  40. What is Game Theory? A model of the strategic moves and countermoves of rivals.

  41. What are two pricing methods in Game Theory? Tit for tat Price leadership

  42. What is tit for tat? Under this approach, a player will do whatever the other player did the last time.

  43. What is price leadership? One company follows whatever price the leader sets

  44. What is formal collusion? This is when companies communicate and decide what price to charge customers

  45. What is informal collusion? This is when companies find alternative ways to agree on a price without any tacit communication

  46. Is formal collusion legal? No, it is against the law for firms to come together and agree amongst them what price to charge

  47. What conclusion can be drawn from collusion? As long as the benefits exceed the costs, cheating can threaten formal or informal agreements among oligopolists to maximize joint profits

  48. What conclusion can be drawn from oligopolies? The price charged for the product will be higher than under perfect competition More money is spent on forms of nonprice competition

  49. Key Concepts

  50. What is imperfect competition? • What is monopolistic competition? • What is product differentiation? • What is nonprice competition? • Why is a monopolistic competitive firm a price maker? • How does a firm decide what price to charge and how many units to produce? • Why is a normal profit made in the long-run?