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What are the pros and cons of monopolies? Show more Show less

The word monopolies has negative connotations in economic history, but recently monopolies have been praised by people such as Warren Buffett and Peter Thiel. The arguments for and against are not new, but now they have better empirical support.

Monopolies are damaging to economies Show more Show less

Monopolies choke economies: competition is central to a healthy economic system
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Monopolies reduce entrepreneurial activity

Rising product market concentration leads to a collapse in entrepreneurial activity

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Context

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The Argument

Monopolies erect barriers to entry in their industry. These may be regulatory, through high switching costs. For example, ratings agencies are a duopoly, and they have pushed for regulatory backing for their existence (NRSRO status) and then have actively lobbied to preserve this status. Microsoft, for example, made it very difficult to uninstall Microsoft Explorer when they were competing with Netscape. Bloomberg makes customers sign two year contracts to use the terminal and makes it very hard to quit. While each industry is different, rising product market concentration has led to a collapse in entrepreneurial activity across almost all sectors of the United States economy, as Ryan Decker and others have documented.

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Framing

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This page was last edited on Monday, 20 Jan 2020 at 15:54 UTC