Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly

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CHAPTER 12 MONOPOLISTIC COMPETITION AND OLIGOPOLY REVIEW QUESTIONS 1. What are the characteristics of a monopolistically competitive market? What happens to the equilibrium price and quantity in such a market if one firm introduces a new, improved product? The two primary characteristics of a monopolistically competitive market are (1) that firms compete by selling differentiated products which are highly, but not perfectly, substitutable and (2) that there is free entry and exit from the market. When a new firm enters a monopolistically competitive market (seeking positive profits), the demand curve for each of the incumbent firms shifts inward, thus reducing the price and quantity received by the incumbents.…show more content…
In equilibrium, each firm does the best it can, conditional on its competitors’ prices. The equilibrium is stable because firms are maximizing profit and no firm has an incentive to raise or lower its price. Firms do not always collude: a cartel agreement is difficult to enforce because each firm has an incentive to cheat. By lowering price, the cheating firm can increase its market share and profits. A second reason that firms do not collude is that such collusion violates antitrust laws. In particular, price fixing violates Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Of course, there are attempts to circumvent antitrust laws through tacit collusion. EXERCISES 1. Suppose all firms in a monopolistically competitive industry were merged into one large firm. Would that new firm produce as many different brands? Would it produce only a single brand? Explain. Monopolistic competition is defined by product differentiation. Each firm earns economic profit by distinguishing its brand from all other brands. This distinction can arise from underlying differences in the product or from differences in advertising. If these competitors merge into a single firm, the resulting monopolist would not produce as many brands, since too much brand competition is internecine (mutually destructive). However, it is unlikely that only one brand would be produced after the merger.
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