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Is Globalisation A Threat Or Opportunity Economics Essay

The term “globalisation” is often used however hardly ever defined. It refers to the rapid enhance in the share of monetary movement taking place across state limits. This goes further than just the international trade in goods and comprises the way those goods are produced, the delivery and sale of services, and the movement of resources. Globalisation is the result of a number of interrelated developments together with:
The increase and relative consequence of foreign direct investment and multinational enterprises
The internationalisation of financial markets
The ongoing growth of communication and transport technology
Deregulation and liberalisation
Privatisation of public sector service
This report includes about Globalisation and its impacts to consumers and also the benefits that both organisations and employees could take chance of it.
Defining Globalisation Globalisation is the process by which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected as a result of massively increased trade and cultural exchange. The global economy is the machine that powers globalisation. This concept has been taking place for hundred of years, but has speeded up rapidly over the last decade. The factors that influence globalisation include the following.
Communication: Technological products and services such as TV, Telephone and Internet have allowed information to travel so rapidly. An Australian business can have a call centre in Sri Lanka answering calls from Australian customers (BBC).
Transport: This has become cheaper and people travel more than earlier days since the development of the transport industry such as Rail Transport, Air Transport and Sea Transport. The mode of transport has become more convenient than never before with the improvement of technology since customers can arrange their travel needs staying at their home and the services are delivered to their door step. Businesses can ship products and raw materials all over the world more easily – making products and services from all over the globe available to their local customers (BBC).
Trade Liberalisation: Laws restricting trade and foreign investment have been relaxed. Several governments even offer grants and tax incentives to convince foreign companies to invest in their country (BBC).
When globalisation comes into existence there are two main policies that govern the process of globalisation, which is Privatisation and Deregulation.
Privatisation is all about putting the government out of the business. Which means the free market will take control of the business which is managed by a private sector organisation. When the government is incompetent to run the economy they will let the free market to run it which will benefit the public. At this stage governments will sell their publicly owned business and assets to multinationals (MNC’s) which are controlled and financed by public shareholders.
In a country deregulation will take several forms. Government in a country would take off the trade restrictions and easing of government regulation in business will allow the business to run more efficiently. Therefore the best business will survive the competition to give the consumers a better standard of living.
Dimensions of Globalisation Trade Trade is the key ingredient that receives more attention of globalisation. Trade liberalisation would minimise the formal trade barriers through the process of WTO and other regional bilateral agreements. Trade liberalisation receives much public inspection since it engages direct policy decisions by national government to reduce trade barriers. It involves legislation and concessions with other governments. Thus trade liberalisation is important to many countries economic in modern times. Many successive governments have delivered on commitments to reduce trade barriers (Harcourt, 2001).
Investment There is less public debate about the role of investment despite the capacity of the capital which outstrips trade flows in this aspect of globalisation relative to trade. One of the reason behind this would be there are formal regulations of investment made by governments on an international scale equally there are trade regulations in the WTO. However the opening of the domestic economies to FDI is an important part of modern globalisation (Harcourt, 2001).
3.3 Organisational Change This dimension of globalisation related to organisational change in the corporate sector. Exploring trade and investment flows between countries may provide some suggestion to international economic integration but it may fail to spot key important developments of corporate restructure and firm behaviour that may have major affects. There have been intact changes in many organisations in terms of the nature of the firm due to globalisation of the production and distribution process. Today firms are part of global supply changes with extensive global networking which has led modern world management strategies such as outsourcing (Harcourt, 2001). According to Eslake (2000),
“For both corporations and governments, the drive to lower costs has in turn spawned a variety of management strategies such as ‘outsourcing’ non- core activities to outside specialists, striving for economies of scale by acquiring and consolidating the operations of other businesses producing similar or compatible products, and shifting activities to locations where the most important inputs (such as labour or energy) may be obtained on the most favourable terms. For each of these strategies, reaching across national borders is a distinctly possible outcome.”
Corporate strategy might occur within in a nation where as in some instances it may not. Nevertheless, exporters and affiliates of international firms are often the first to implement organisational change within a country. Exporters tend to adapt international business practices much earlier than the domestic firm in the domestic market do will be a special characteristic. Therefore, practices like out-sourcing, benchmarking, business networking and contracting out are more likely to be pronounced in the exporting sector of the economy (Harcourt, 2001).
Is Globalisation a Threat or Opportunity? Globalisation has the potential to create wealth and enhance living standards. The benefits are obvious for countries which comprised with products, skills and resources in order to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the global markets. Furthermore there are some major downsides particularly for those countries that don’t fall into to this category (TSSA).
In general globalisation is recognised as having increased the gap between the rich and poor. This is largely because of the policies that drive the globalisation processes have mainly focussed on the needs of the business. Moreover this concept has significant social and political implications which have brought the threat of elimination for large section of the world’s population creating unemployment, growing wage and income disparities. This concept “globalisation” which we all concern about has also made it difficult to deal with economic policies just as prominently in corporate behaviour which is purely within a nation (TSSA).
Over the past years industrialised countries which are highly paid have seen their income rise much more faster than the average developing families in third world nations are dependent on insecure such as low paid jobs and less social benefits. Trade Liberalisation of trade which means and to reduce regulation including legal protection of workers has put on a negative impact on the lives of millions of people around the world. Several poor countries such as Sri Lanka are have been encouraged to enhance the production for exports and compelled to reduce inadequate spending on public services so that it will benefit the nation to repay their foreign depts. Consequently this has forced many people substantially in to a life of poverty and uncertainty (TSSA).
Pros and Cons of Globalisation Positive: The utmost benefit that most of the developed countries get from globalisation is the availability of greater range of cheap goods to buy.
Globalisation opens people to be alive to other cultures and all their creativity and to the flow of thoughts and ethics.
Information and communication technologies have eased interaction among countries and peoples.
Globalization has eased international trade and commerce, facilitated foreign investment and the flow of capital.
Globalization has freed labour across boundaries.
Globalization has set new rules that are integrating global markets.
(Nsibambi, 2001)
Negative: As cultures interact, some cultures are being diluted and/or destroyed at the expense of others and negative values are being spread all over the world with relative ease.
The world is now divided between the connected, who know and who have a monopoly on almost everything, and the isolated, who do not know and who practically have nothing.
Globalization has encouraged illicit trade in drugs, prostitution, pornography, human smuggling, dumping of dangerous waste and depletion of the environment by unscrupulous entrepreneurs.
Globalization has facilitated the “brain drain” in developing countries, thus reducing further their human capacity.
Globalization has set new global rules that have further marginalized poor countries and people, especially in areas of trade.
(Nsibambi, 2001)
Conclusion In order to sustainably serve the humanity there would be a different global economy that works in the real world. It is inevitable that the pain destruction caused by the global economy has affected the consumers in the poor countries at large but this how the global economy is designed. Employment deprivation, social breakdowns, and high personal stress levels are not a substance to mathematically calculated profit margins in today’s business arena. The people of a nation as humans care about well being of their environment and society in which they belongs to. Most of the MNC’s do not have such national sentiments to put in to practice as they would look ahead to give the world for a dominant market share and presently their concern is merely just doing what they want.

The Role Of Monopolies In An Economy Economics Essay

A monopoly must be distinguished from monopsony, in which there is only one buyer of a product or service ; a monopoly may also have monopsony control of a sector of a market. Likewise, a monopoly should be distinguished from a cartel (a form of oligopoly), in which several providers act together to coordinate services, prices or sale of goods. Monopolies, monopsonies and oligopolies are all situations where one or a few of the entities have market power and therefore must interact with their customers (monopoly), suppliers (monopsony) and the other firms (oligopoly) in a game theoretic manner – meaning that expectations about their behavior affects other players’ choice of strategy and vice versa. This is to be contrasted with the model of perfect competition where firms are price takers and do not have market power. Monopolists typically produce fewer goods and sell them at a higher price than under perfect competition, resulting in abnormal and sustained profit. (See also Bertrand, Cournot or Steckelberg equilibria, market power, market share, market concentration, Monopoly profit, industrial economics).
Monopolies can form naturally or through vertical or horizontal mergers. A monopoly is said to be coercive when the monopoly firm actively prohibits competitors from entering the field or punishes competitors who do (see Chainstore paradox).
In many jurisdictions, competition laws place specific restrictions on monopolies. Holding a dominant position or a monopoly in the market is not illegal in itself, however certain categories of behavior can, when a business is dominant, be considered abusive and therefore be met with legal sanctions. A government-granted monopoly or legal monopoly, by contrast, is sanctioned by the state, often to provide an incentive to invest in a risky venture or enrich a domestic interest group. Patents, copyright, and trademarks are all examples of government granted and enforced monopolies. The government may also reserve the venture for itself, thus forming a government monopoly.
Market structures
In economics, monopoly is a pivotal area to the study of market structures, which directly concerns normative aspects of economic competition, and sets the foundations for fields such as industrial organization and economics of regulation. There are four basic types of market structures under traditional economic analysis: perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly and monopoly. A monopoly is a market structure in which a single supplier produces and sells the product. If there is a single seller in a certain industry and there are no close substitutes for the goods being produced, then the market structure is that of a “pure monopoly”. Sometimes, there are many sellers in an industry and/or there exist many close substitutes for the goods being produced, but nevertheless firms retain some market power. This is called monopolistic competition, whereas in oligopoly the main theoretical framework revolves around firm’s strategic interactions.
In general, the main results from this theory compare price-fixing methods across market structures, analyse the impact of a certain structure on welfare, and play with different variations of technological/demand assumptions in order to assess its consequences on the abstract model of society. Most economic textbooks follow the practice of carefully explaining the perfect competition model, only because of its usefulness to understand “departures” from it (the so called imperfect competition models).
The boundaries of what constitutes a market and what doesn’t is a relevant distinction to make in economic analysis. In a general equilibrium context, a good is a specific concept entangling geographical and time-related characteristics (grapes sold in October 2009 in Moscow is a different good from grapes sold in October 2009 in New York). Most studies of market structure relax a little their definition of a good, allowing for more flexibility at the identification of substitute-goods. Therefore, one can find an economic analysis of the market of grapes in Russia, for example, which is not a market in the strict sense of general equilibrium theory.
Single seller: In a monopoly there is one seller of the monopolised good who produces all the output. Therefore, the whole market is being served by a single firm, and for practical purposes, the firm is the same as the industry.
Market power: Market power is the ability to affect the terms and conditions of exchange so that the price of the product is set by the firm (price is not imposed by the market as in perfect competition). Although a monopoly’s market power is high it is still limited by the demand side of the market. A monopoly faces a negatively sloped demand curve not a perfectly inelastic curve. Consequently, any price increase will result in the loss of some customers.
Sources of monopoly power
Monopolies derive their market power from barriers to entry – circumstances that prevent or greatly impede a potential competitor’s entry into the market or ability to compete in the market. There are three major types of barriers to entry; economic, legal and deliberate.
Economic barriers: Economic barriers include economies of scale, capital requirements, cost advantages and technological superiority.
Economies of scale: Monopolies are characterised by declining costs over a relatively large range of production.Declining costs coupled with large start up costs give monopolies an advantage over would be competitors. Monopolies are often in a position to cut prices below a new entrant’s operating costs and drive them out of the industry. Further the size of the industry relative to the minimum efficient scale may limit the number of firms that can effectively compete within the industry. If for example the industry is large enough to support one firm of minimum efficient scale then other firms entering the industry will operate at a size that is less than MES meaning that these firms cannot produce at an average cost that is competitive with the dominant firm. Finally, if long run average cost is constantly falling the least cost way to provide a good or service is through a single firm.
Capital requirements: Production processes that require large investments of capital, or large research and development costs or substantial sunk costs limit the number of firms in an industry. Large fixed costs also make it difficult for a small firm to enter an industry and expand.
Technological superiority: A monopoly may be better able to acquire, integrate and use the best possible technology in producing its goods while entrants do not have the size or fiscal muscle to use the best available technology In plain English one large firm can sometimes produce goods cheaper than several small firms.
No substitute goods: A monopoly sells a good for which there is no close substitutes. The absence of substitutes makes the demand for the good relatively inelastic enabling monopolies to extract positive profits.
Control of Natural Resources: A prime source of monopoly power is the control of resources that are critical to the production of a final good.
Network Externalities: The use of a product by a person can affect the value of that product to other people. This is the network effect. There is a direct relationship between the proportion of people using a product and the demand for that product. In other words the more people who are using a product the higher the probability of any individual starting to use the product. This effect accounts for fads and fashion trends It also can play a crucial role in the development or acquisition of market power. The most famous current example is the market dominance of the Microsoft operating system in personal computers.
Legal barriers: Legal rights can provide opportunity to monopolise the market in a good. Intellectual property rights, including patents and copyrights, give a monopolist exclusive control over the production and selling of certain goods. Property rights may give a firm the exclusive control over the materials necessary to produce a good.
Deliberate Actions: A firm wanting to monopolise a market may engage in various types of deliberate action to exclude competitors or eliminate competition. Such actions include collusion, lobbying governmental authorities, and force.
In addition to barriers to entry and competition, barriers to exit may be a source of market power. Barriers to exit are market conditions that make it difficult or expensive for a firm to leave the market. High liquidation costs are a primary barrier to exit. Market exit and shutdown are separate events. The decision whether to shut down or operate is not affected by exit barriers. A firm will shut down if price falls below minimum average variable costs.
Monopoly versus competitive markets
While monopoly and perfect competition mark the extremes of market structures there are many point of similarity. The cost functions are the same. Both monopolies and perfectly competitive firms minimize cost and maximize profit. The shutdown decisions are the same. Both are assumed to face perfectly competitive factors markets. There are distinctions, some of the more important of which are as follows:
Market Power – market power is the ability to raise the product’s price above marginal cost and not lose all your customers.Specifically market power is the ability to raise prices without losing all one’s customers to competitors. Perfectly competitive (PC) firms have zero market power when it comes to setting prices. All firms in a PC market are price takers. The price is set by the interaction of demand and supply at the market or aggregate level. Individual firms simply take the price determined by the market and produce that quantity of output that maximize the firm’s profits. If a PC firm attempted to raise prices above the market level all its “customers” would abandon the firm and purchase at the market price from other firms. A monopoly has considerable although not unlimited market power. A monopoly has the power to set prices or quantities although not both. A monopoly is a price maker. The monopoly is the market and prices are set by the monopolist based on his circumstances and not the interaction of demand and supply. The two primary factors determining monopoly market power are the firm’s demand curve and its cost structure.
Price – In a perfectly competitive market price equals marginal cost. In a monopolistic market price is greater than marginal cost.
Marginal revenue and price – In a perfectly competitive market marginal revenue equals price. In a monopolistic market marginal revenue is less than price.
Product differentiation: There is zero product differentiation in a perfectly competitive market. Every product is perfectly homogeneous and a perfect substitute. With a monopoly there is high to absolute product differentiation in the sense that there is no available substitute for a monopolized good. The monopolist is the sole supplier of the good in question. A customer either buys from the monopolist on her terms or does without.
Number of competitors: PC markets are populated by an infinite number of buyers and sellers. Monopoly involves a single seller.
Barriers to Entry – Barriers to entry are factors and circumstances that prevent entry into market by would be competitors and impediments to competition that limit new firms from operating and expanding within the market. PC markets have free entry and exit. There are no barriers to entry, exit or competition. Monopolies have relatively high barriers to entry. The barriers must be strong enough to prevent or discourage any potential competitor from entering the market.
Elasticity of Demand; the price elasticity of demand is the percentage change in demand caused by a one percent change in relative price. A successful monopoly would face a relatively inelastic demand curve. A low coefficient of elasticity is indicative of effective barriers to entry. A PC firm faces what it perceives to be perfectly elastic demand curve. The coefficient of elasticity for a perfectly competitive demand curve is infinite.
Excess Profits- Excess or positive profits are profit above the normal expected return on investment. A PC firm can make excess profits in the short run but excess profits attract competitors who can freely enter the market and drive down prices eventually reducing excess profits to zero. A monopoly can preserve excess profits because barriers to entry prevent competitors from entering the market.
Profit Maximization – A PC firm maximizes profits by producing where price equals marginal costs. A monopoly maximises profits by producing where marginal revenue equals marginal costs. The rules are not equivalent. The demand curve for a PC firm is perfectly elastic – flat. The demand curve is identical to the average revenue curve and the price line. Since the average revenue curve is constant the marginal revenue curve is also constant and equals the demand curve, Average revenue is the same as price (AR = TR/Q = P x Q/Q = P). Thus the price line is also identical to the demand curve. In sum, D = AR = MR = P.
P-Max quantity, price and profit – If a monopolist obtains control of a formerly perfectly competitive industry, the monopolist would raise prices, cut production, and realise positive economic profits.
Supply Curve – in a perfectly competitive market there is a well defined supply function with a one to one relationship between price and quantity supplied. In a monopolistic market no such supply relationship exists. A monopolist cannot trace out a short run supply curve because for a given price there is not a unique quantity supplied.As Pindyck and Rubenfeld note a change in demand “can lead to changes in prices with no change in output, changes in output with no change in price or both.” Monopolies produce where marginal revenue equals marginal costs. For a specific demand curve the supply “curve” would be the price/quantity combination at the point where marginal revene equals marginal cost. If the demand curve shifted the marginal revenue curve would shift as well and a new equilibrium and supply “point” would be established. The locus of these points would not be a supply curve in any conventional sense.
The most significant distinction between a PC firm and a monopoly is that the monopoly faces a downward sloping demand curve rather than the “perceived” perfectly elastic curve of the PC firm. Practically all the variations above mentioned relate to this fact. If there is a downward sloping demand curve then by necessity there is a distinct marginal revenue curve. The implications of this fact are best made manifest with a linear demand curve, Assume that the inverse demand curve is of the form x = a – by. Then the total revenue curve is TR = ay – by2 and the marginal revenue curve is thus MR = a – 2by. From this several things are evident. First the marginal revenue curve has the same y intercept as the inverse demand curve. Second the slope of the marginal revenue curve is twice that of the inverse demand curve. Third the x intercept of the marginal revenue curve is half that of the inverse demand curve. What is not quite so evident is that the marginal revenue curve lies below the inverse demand curve at all points. Since all firms maximise profits by equating MR and MC it must be the case that at the profit maximizing quantity MR and MC are less than price which further implies that a monopoly produces less quantity at a higher price than if the market were perfectly competitive.
The fact that a monopoly faces a downward sloping demand curve means that the relationship between total revenue and output for a monopoly is much different than that of competitive firms. Total revenue equals price times quantity. A competitive firm faces a perfectly elastic demand curve meaning that total revenue is proportional to output. Thus the total revenue curve for a competitive firm is a ray with a slope equal to the market price. A competitive firm can sell all the output it desires at the market price. For a monopoly to increase sales it must reduce price. Thus the total revenue curve for a monopoly is a parabola that begins at the origin and reaches a maximum value then continuously falls until total revenue is again zero. Total revenue reaches its maximum value when the slope of the total revenue function is zero. The slope of the total revenue function is marginal revenue. So the revenue maximizing quantity and price occur when MR = 0. For example assume that the monopoly’s demand function is P = 50 – 2Q. The total revenue function would be TR = 50Q – 2Q2 and marginal revenue would be 50 – 4Q. Setting marginal revenue equal to zero we have
50 – 4Q = 0
-4Q = -50
Q = 12.5
So the revenue maximizing quantity for the monopoly is 12.5 units and the revenue maximizing price is 25.
A company with a monopoly does not undergo price pressure from competitors, although it may face pricing pressure from potential competition. If a company raises prices too high, then others may enter the market if they are able to provide the same good, or a substitute, at a lower price. The idea that monopolies in markets with easy entry need not be regulated against is known as the “revolution in monopoly theory”.
A monopolist can extract only one premium, and getting into complementary markets does not pay. That is, the total profits a monopolist could earn if it sought to leverage its monopoly in one market by monopolizing a complementary market are equal to the extra profits it could earn anyway by charging more for the monopoly product itself. However, the one monopoly profit theorem does not hold true if customers in the monopoly good are stranded or poorly informed, or if the tied good has high fixed costs.
A pure monopoly follows the same economic rationality of firms under perfect competition, i.e. to optimise a profit function given some constraints. Under the assumptions of increasing marginal costs, exogenous inputs’ prices, and control concentrated on a single agent or entrepreneur, the optimal decision is to equate the marginal cost and marginal revenue of production. Nonetheless, a pure monopoly can -unlike a competitive firm- alter the market price for her own convenience: a decrease in the level of production results in a higher price. In the economics’ jargon, it is said that pure monopolies “face a downward-sloping demand”. An important consequence of such behaviour is worth noticing: typically a monopoly selects a higher price and lower quantity of output than a price-taking firm; again, less is available at a higher price.
The inverse elasticity rule
A monopoly chooses that price that maximizes the difference between total revenue and total cost. The basic markup rule can be expressed as P – MC/P = 1/PED. The markup rules indicates that the ratio between profit margin and the price is inversely proportional to the price elasticity of demand. The implication of the rule are that the more elastic the demand for the product the less pricing power the monopoly has.
Price discrimination and capturing consumer surplus
Improved price discrimination allows a monopolist to gain more profit by charging more to those who want or need the product more or who have a higher ability to pay. For example, most economic textbooks cost more in the United States than in “Third world countries” like Ethiopia. In this case, the publisher is using their government granted copyright monopoly to price discriminate between (presumed) wealthier economics students and (presumed) poor economics students. Similarly, most patented medications cost more in the U.S. than in other countries with a (presumed) poorer customer base. Perfect price discrimination would allow the monopolist to charge a unique price to each customer based on their individual demand. This would allow the monopolist to extract all the consumer surplus of the market. Note that while such perfect price discrimination is still a theoretical construct, it is becoming increasingly real with the advances in information technology, data mining, and micromarketing. Typically, a high general price is listed, and various market segments get varying discounts. This is an example of framing to make the process of charging some people higher prices more socially acceptable.
It is important to realize that partial price discrimination can cause some customers who are inappropriately pooled with high price customers to be excluded from the market. For example, a poor student in the U.S. might be excluded from purchasing an economics textbook at the U.S. price, that she might have purchased at the China price. Similarly, a wealthy student in China might have been willing to pay more (although naturally it is against their interests to signal this to the monopolist). These are deadweight losses and decrease a monopolist’s profits. As such, monopolists have substantial economic interest in improving their market information, and market segmenting.
There are important points for one to remember when considering the monopoly model diagram (and its associated conclusions) displayed here. The result that monopoly prices are higher, and production output lower, than a competitive firm follow from a requirement that the monopoly not charge different prices for different customers. That is, the monopoly is restricted from engaging in price discrimination (this is called first degree price discrimination, where all customers are charged the same amount). If the monopoly were permitted to charge individualised prices (this is called third degree price discrimination), the quantity produced, and the price charged to the marginal customer, would be identical to a competitive firm, thus eliminating the deadweight loss; however, all gains from trade (social welfare) would accrue to the monopolist and none to the consumer. In essence, every consumer would be just indifferent between (1) going completely without the product or service and (2) being able to purchase it from the monopolist.
As long as the price elasticity of demand for most customers is less than one in absolute value, it is advantageous for a firm to increase its prices: it then receives more money for fewer goods. With a price increase, price elasticity tends to rise, and in the optimum case above it will be greater than one for most customers.
Pricing with market power
Price discrimination is charging different consumers different prices for the same product when the cost of servicing the customer is identical. Absent price discrimination each consumer pays the same market price. The purpose of price discrimination is to capture consumer surplus and transfer it to the producer. Price discrimination is not limited to monopolies. Any firm that has market power can engage in price discrimination. Perfect competition is the only market form in which price discrimination would be impossible. There are three forms of price discrimination. First degree price discrimination charges each consumer the maximum price the consumer is willing to pay. Second degree price discrimination involves quantity discounts. Third degree price discrimination involves grouping consumers according to willingness to pay as measured by their price elasticities of demand and charging each group a different price. Third degree price discrimination is by far the most prevalent form
Purpose of price discrimination
The purpose of price discrimination is to earn higher profits by capturing consumer surplus and transferring it to the seller. A firm maximizes profit by selling where marginal revenue equals marginal cost. A firm that does not engage in price discrimination will charge the profit maximizing price, P*, to all its customers. Under such circumstances there are customers who would be willing to pay a higher price than P* and those who will not pay P* but would buy at a lower price. A price discrimination strategy is to charge less price sensitive buyers a higher price and the more price sensitive buyers a lower price. Thus additional revenue is generated from two sources. The basic problem is to identify customers by their willingness to pay and have them pay the price.
Conditions for price discrimination
There are three conditions that must be present for a firm to engage in successful price discrimination. First, the firm must have market power. Second, first must be able to sort customers according to their willingness to pay for the good. Third, the firm must be able to prevent resell.
Market power
Market power is the firm’s ability to raise prices without losing all its customers. A firm must have some degree of market power to practice price discrimination. Without market power the firm cannot charge more than the market price. Any market structure characterized by a downward sloping demand curve has market power – monopoly, monopolistic competition and oligopoly. The only market structure that has no market power is perfect competition.
Willingness to pay
Consumers must differ in their price sensitivity as reflected in their demand elasticities and the seller must know something about how demand elasticities vary among consumers. Without this information the seller will not know the relative elasticities of various groups of consumers would not be able to separate customers according to their PEDS. In plain English the objective is to divide consumers between those who will pay more than the optimal price and those who will only pay less.
A firm wishing to practice price discrimination must be able to prevent middle men or brokers from capturing the consumer surplus for themselves. The firm accomplishes this by preventing or limiting resale. Many methods are used to prevent resale. For example persons are required to show photo identification and a borading pass before boarding a plane. Most travelers assume that this practice is strictly a matter of security. However, a primary purpose in requesting photo id is to confirm that the ticket purchaser is the person about to board the plane and not someone who has repurchased the ticket from a discount buyer.
The inability to prevent resale is the largest obstacle to successful price discrimination. Companies have however developed numerous methods to prevent resale. For example, universities require that student show identification before entering sporting events. Governments may make it illegal to resale tickets or products. In Boston Red Sox tickets can only be resold to the team. Resale to individuals is illegal.
Basic forms
The three basic forms of price discrimination are first, second and third degree price discrimination. In first degree price discrimination the firms charge the maximum price each customer is willing to pay. The maximum price a consumer is willing to pay for a unit of the good is the reservation price. Thus for each unit the seller tries to set the price equal to the consumer’s reservation price. Direct information about a consumer’s willingness to pay is rarely available. Seller’s tend to rely on secondary information such as where a person lives (zip codes), how she dresses, what kind of car she drives, her occupation, how much money she makes and her spending patterns. First degree price discrimination most frequently occurs in the area of professional services or in transactions involving direct buyer seller negotiations. For example, an accountant who has prepared a consumer’s tax return has information that can be used to charge customers based on an estimate of their ability to pay.
In second degree price discrimination or quantity discrimination customers are charged different prices based on how much they buy. There is a single price schedule for all consumers but the prices vary depending on the quantity of the good bought. The theory behind second second degree price discrimination is a consumer is willing to buy only a certain quantity of a good at a given price and then no more. Companies know that consumer’s willingness to buy falls as more units are purchased, The task for the seller is to identify these price points and to reduce the price once one is reached in the hope that a reduced price will trigger additional purchases from the consumer. For example, sell in units blocks rather than individual units.
In third degree price discrimination or multi-market price discrimination the seller divides the consumers into different groups according to their willingness to pay as measured by their price elasticity of demand. Each group of consumers effectively becomes a separate market with its own demand curve and marginal revenue curve. The firm then attempts to maximize profits in each segment by equating MR and MC, Generally the firms charge a higher price to the group with a more price inelastic demand and a relatively lower price to the group with a more elastic demand. Examples of third degree price discrimination abound. Airlines charge higher prices to business travelers than to vacation travelers. The reasoning is that the demand curve for a vacation traveler is relatively elastic while the demand curve for a business traveler is relatively inelastic. Any determinant of price elasticity of demand can be used to segment markets. For example, seniors have a more elastic demand for movies than do young adults because they generally have more free time. Thus theaters will offer discount tickets to seniors.
Assume that under a uniform pricing system the monopolist would sell five units at a price of $10 per unit. Assume that his marginal cost is 5 per unit. Total revenue would be $50, total costs would be $25 and profits would be $25. If the monopolist practiced price discrimination he would sell the first unit for $50 the second unit for $40 and so on. Total revenue would be $150, his total cost would be $25 and his profit would be $125.00. Several things are worth noting. The monopolist captures all the consumer surplus and eliminates practically all the deadweight loss because he is willing to sell to anyone who is willing to pay at least the marginal cost. Thus the price discrimination promotes efficiency. Secondly, under the pricing scheme price = average revenue and equals marginal revenue. That is the monopolist is behaving like a perfectly competitive firm. Thirdly, the discriminating monopolist produces a larger quantity than the monopolist operating under a uniform pricing scheme.
Classifying customers
Successful price discrimination requires that firms separate consumers according to their willingness to buy. Determining a customer’s willingness to buy a good is difficult. Asking concumer’s directly is fruitless. Consumer’s don’t know and to the extent they do they are reluctant to share that information with marketers. The two main methods for determining willingness to buy are observation of personal characteristics and consumer actions. As noted information about where a person lives (zip codes), how she dresses, what kind of car she drives, her occupation, how much money she makes and her spending patterns can be helpful in classifying consumers.
Monopoly and efficiency
Surpluses and deadweight loss created by monopoly price setting
According to the standard model, in which a monopolist sets a single pr