‘The chief effects of monopoly are to misallocate resources, to cut down sum public assistance, and to redistribute income in favor of monopolizers. ‘ ( Harberger, 1954: 2 ) It is for this ground that monopoly power is by and large condemned by neoclassical economic experts. Super-normal net incomes generated in both short and long tally are a map of supra competitory monetary values being charged. And although huge sums of wealth accrue to monopolizers in an economic system, such market failures remain unresolved. The aim of this paper is to reexamine and review the assorted efforts at mensurating the ‘Deadweight Loss ‘ and analyze alternate positions on monopolistic behavior.


The Monopolist sets its monetary value and allows the market to find the measure it will demand: ‘Law of One Price. ‘ Where a house in perfect competition produces end product at a monetary value equal to its fringy cost[ 1 ], the Monopolist produces where the fringy cost of each unit equals its fringy gross. This consequences in a forced degree of end product below that which would be supplied under competitory conditions, therefore stand foring the inefficiency of the operation. Absolutely competitory markets are in this manner viewed as being fruitfully efficient since in the long tally no house could last without bring forthing at the lowest point on its mean cost curve. In contrast, monopolizers restrict end product below the technically most productive degree in order to raise monetary value. ( O’Toole, 2008 ) Clarke and Davies ( 1982 ) show that the extent to which monetary value exceeds fringy cost can be related to the degree of market concentration, as measured by the Lerner index. Since the demand curve is downward sloping,

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& lt ; 0, the monopolizer must cut down its monetary value in order to increase end product ( gross revenues ) . Fringy gross is the monetary value at which the monopolizer can sell the fringy unit, reduced by a loss of gross on end product that could hold been sold at a higher monetary value.


being the snap of demand, which is in tandem with the fact that is negative.

Lerner ‘s ( 1934 ) index of market power: gives us the end product determination of the monopolizer:


The ‘Deadweight Loss ‘ public assistance trigon shows the doomed ( Marshallian ) consumer and manufacturer excess, while rectangle L represents a transportation of income from the consumer to the Monopolist. Such a reallocation is said to be Pareto inefficient[ 2 ], and it is this welfare loss associated with Monopolistic behavior that exposes it to such flack catcher on the economic and political forepart. Deadweight Loss, nevertheless, topographic points manufacturers and consumers on the same plane, whereas the income transportation from consumers to manufacturers is non considered a societal public assistance loss because it is offset by monopoly net incomes which accrue to proprietors of the monopoly house. ( Martin, 1994 )

Estimating the Welfare Triangle

‘If this estimation is right, economic experts might function a more utile intent of they fought fires or white ants alternatively of monopoly. ‘ ( Stigler: 1956: 34 )

The prime estimation of Deadweight Loss is attributed to the pioneering work of Arnold Harberger ( 1954 ) at the University of Chicago. The American fabrication industry was examined over the period 1924-1928, utilizing a sample of 2,046 corporations which account for 45 % of the fabrication industry. The clip frame was selected chiefly for its stable monetary values and resemblance to hanker run equilibrium.

It is assumed that long tally norm costs exhibit changeless returns to graduated table ( which aids finding of fringy costs ) and in equilibrium, all houses are runing on their long tally cost curves, these cost curves yield the house an equal return on its invested capital, and all markets are cleared. While a plausible image of ideal resource allotment, it may be less discernible in the existent universe – but does let for observing any misallocation by merely detecting the rates of return on capital. The dataset used consisted of rates of entire net income to entire capital for 73 fabrication industries, with entire capital defined as ‘book capital plus bonded liability ‘ and entire net income defined as ‘book net income plus involvement on the liability. ‘ ( Harberger: 1954: 79 ) The extra net incomes are expressed as the difference between what would hold been attained if that house had achieved the mean rate of net income for that industry. To extinguish these surpluss, the reallocation of resources ( defined as labor, capital and stuffs supplied by other industries ) is mostly dependent on the snap of demand confronting each industry in inquiry, which is assumed to be rather low or close to integrity at the highest. This allows the sum of extra net income to mensurate the measure of resources required to convey a house ‘s net income rate toward the norm. The consequence of an industry spread outing end product ( to the competitory ‘average net income ‘ degree ) may do another industry providing the former industry to spread out its end product. However, where some industries under-produce and others overproduce before the reallocation, a counter consequence is assumed to happen.

The consequence is that misallocation of resources across the fabrication industry could hold been eliminated by a transportation of 4 % of resources of the fabrication industry or 1.5 % of the economic system ‘s entire resources. Further, the entire betterment in consumer public assistance is estimated at $ 26.5 million ; this translates into $ 59 million for the whole economic system – ‘less than one ten percent of one per centum of national income[ 3 ]. ‘ ( Harberger: 1954: 82 ) This estimation was confirmed in a ulterior survey by Schwartzman ( 1960 ) . In 1954 dollars, this public assistance addition amounted to $ 1.50 for every adult male, adult female and kid in the United States.

Algebraically, Harberger ‘s method was a alteration of the basic trigon expression:

Where since, that is, in perfect competition monetary value peers cost ( AC/MC assumed changeless ) .

return on gross revenues.

Harberger assumed that, believing that snaps would be reasonably low for fabricating industries.

Harberger ‘s appraisal of Deadweight Loss is non without its defects ; the premise of changeless costs is unlikely over clip when we factor in the effects of rising prices on costs of production. The estimated consumer public assistance would therefore be even less than 1 % of GDP. When patents and good will are factored out of capitalised net income, the resource transportation would lift to 1.75 % , and the public assistance loss due to resource misallocation would work out at $ 81 million. ( Harberger, 1954 ) Further, the sample included high net income houses ensuing in an mean net income rate of 10.4 % over 8 % in the fabrication industry as a whole. A farther issue with industry informations is that the net incomes of houses exerting market power are offset by the losingss of houses doing losingss because of inefficiencies. These houses are in short tally disequilibrium due to inefficiently high costs ; their losingss are a cost to society but non because they have market power.

The premise of monetary value snap bing 1 generated much argument ; where snap is comparatively high, incremental monetary value additions cause measures demanded to fall well, therefore deadweight loss will be comparatively high. In contrast, low snap ( inelastic demand ) means really light sensitiveness to monetary value additions – deadweight loss will hence be rather little. In add-on, unit snap of demand implies fringy gross equal to zero, and since fringy costs are improbable to be zero, this is at odds with cardinal net income maximization. ( Ferguson et al, 1994 )

As a concluding note, one could propose that being associated with the Chicago School, Harberger ‘s work may hold been somewhat biased in its effort to cipher monopoly welfare losingss.

Rent Seeking: Beyond Harberger ‘s Triangle

‘The Gods aid those who help themselves. ‘ AESOP

It is argued that the Monopolist ‘s supranormal net incomes do non merely stand for a transportation of income from consumer to manufacturer, as rent seeking activities dissipate these net incomes over clip. ( O’Toole, 2008 ) The premiss of rent seeking is by and large associated with Tullock ( 1967 ) who argues that the really chance of monopoly net incomes will pull immense resources into attempts to obtain that monopoly place, which in bend represents an chance cost of such resources and a societal cost to society. Tullock uses the analogy of larceny to exemplify squandering of resources: the exchange of wealth from victim to thief bears no societal cost upon society ; it simply alters the distribution of wealth. However, the stealer will put resources to obtain this wealth: the really act of rent seeking. At the same clip, possible victims invest resources in locks and gear to debar the possibility of offense, and it is this outgo of resources by both parties which represents the societal loss.

In this vena, Posner ( 1975 ) advocates that the deadweight loss trigon underestimates the true losingss associated with monopoly. His theoretical account incorporates the deadweight loss every bit good as losingss built-in in seeking to obtain a monopoly place[ 4 ]. Premises include:

Cost of obtaining a monopoly is precisely equal to the expected net income of being a monopolizer.

Long tally supply of all inputs is elastic: no rent included in their supply monetary value

Costss incurred in obtaining a monopoly have no socially valuable by merchandises ( for illustration, advertisement outgos )

Entire societal costs of Monopoly are D + L ; since and

This can besides be expressed in footings of monetary value snap of demand:

The issue from here on is presuming the correct values in using the expression. Continuing with Harberger ‘s estimation of D = 0.1 % of GNP, Posner found L = 3.3 % , bring forthing a entire societal cost of monopoly at 3.4 % of GNP. ( 1975 )

Cowling and Mueller Study

Merely as Harberger adhered to the neoclassical opinion of monopoly, the Cowling and Mueller ( 1978 ) survey is more theoretically robust. Datas on price-cost borders collected at the house degree was used in gauging monetary value snap of demand, and thereby the competitory rates of return and the degree of monopoly net income. The deadweight loss was so estimated at half of monopoly net income ( country L in diagram ) .

Cowling and Mueller so widen this expression to account for rent seeking – outgos unrelated to production costs, for illustration advertisement. Ad so, leads to farther additions in monetary value and shrinking of measure:

This is can be extended farther if advertisement is considered a societal cost:

Furthermore, to account for uneconomical outgo to keep a monopoly place, which Cowling and Mueller denote as after revenue enhancement supranormal net incomes[ 5 ]

Using the concluding look above, the writers estimated entire public assistance loss as a consequence of monopoly at 13.14 % of gross corporate merchandise for the USA ( 734 houses over 1963-66 ) and 7.2 % for the UK ( 103 houses over 1968-9 ) . When returning back to Harberger ‘s attack, Cowling and Mueller estimate entire public assistance loss at 3.96 % and 3.86 % for the USA and UK over the several sample periods. Harmonizing to Reid ( 1989 ) , this survey provides a suited vehicle for exemplifying the practical effects of taking a structure-conduct-performance attack to monopoly, as distinct from an Austrian attack.

At the really nucleus of the Cowling and Mueller attack is the conformance with neoclassical analysis which advocates that monopoly possesses no socially good properties. However, costs outside those incurred in production can non be sidelined as wasteful ; publicizing transmits information to all market participants, and the premise of perfect information is important to the operation of a absolutely competitory market.

The decision to be drawn much of this empirical analysis is that the being of monopoly exhibits an unsubstantial deadweight loss on society. Such public assistance losingss are likely to increase in the presence of rent seeking activities and uneconomical outgos in keeping a monopoly. On the sum, entire public assistance loss is merely the amount of public assistance losingss in each market, but this gives rise to the probationary issue of market definition and whether to aggregate by industry. Siegfried and Tiemann ( 1974 ) , whose estimation of public assistance loss in 1963 amounted to merely 0.07 % , estimated big losingss in plastics, crude oil and cars industries ; but industries seldom contain the same group of houses as markets. And as Harberger ( 1954 ) is criticised for, concentrating analysis on big houses ( false monopolizers ) poses the job of these companies viing in several markets due to multi merchandise ironss. ( Ferguson et al, 1994 ) .

On the other side of the coin rests the income redistribution effects of monopolistic competition. Whether country L in the diagram, being the transportation of income from consumers to manufacturers, is socially acceptable varies across states. In Europe, it is argued that the EU Competition Authority attempt to maximize consumer excess instead than both consumer and manufacturer excess ( George and Jacquemin, 1990 ) . This is seeable by looking at a watercourse of instances ; the Ryanair v. the Commission ( 2006 ) , Mastercard ‘s interchange fees instance ( 2006 ) , Wanadoo Interactive v. the Commission ( 2002 ) and Volkswagen v. the Commission ( 1998 ) . US Antimonopoly Policy, on the other manus, strives to forestall trade restraints and monopolistic behavior, in peculiar monetary value favoritism and amalgamations which to a great extent alter market portion.

It is interesting to look at the distributional impact of market power ; in a survey by Comanaor and Smiley ( 1975 ) over the period 1890-1962 estimated that 0.27 % of families in the US in 1962 controlled some 18.5 % of all family wealth. The writers suggest that in the absence of this market power, these families may merely command between 3-10 % of family wealth ( 1975 ) . Furthermore, the poorest families ( 28.25 % ) held a negative net worth ( i.e. debts exceeded assets ) and in the absence of income transportations owing to monopolistic behavior, their net worth would be at least 1.39 % . ( Comanor and Smiley, 1975 ) . This puts a more rough face on monopoly ; being unable to buy the infra-marginal unit of a good at the competitory monetary value sums to widen the inequality spread between rich and hapless.

Alternate: no orange juice at all?

Monopoly extra net incomes frequently act as a short term wages necessary for prolonging the competitory procedure in the long term. Firms that enter the procedure of originative devastation that underlies the competitory procedure are frequently motivated by the possibility of being a monopolizer, albeit merely temporarily. The monopolistic market construction is more contributing to the chase of research and development invention which requires important degrees of up forepart and hazardous investings, which competitory houses do non hold the available maintained net incomes for. ( O’Toole, 2008 )

Littlechild ( 1981 ) asserts that it is irrelevant to compare monopoly with perfect competition on the evidences that in the absence of monopoly, the merchandise is frequently non provided, which represents a greater societal loss.

With this thought of a competitory procedure in head, we can re-explain Fig. 1 ( plot supra ) to analyze the behavior of an enterpriser who discovers a new merchandise before the remainder of the market realises its possible. Assume he charges a monopoly monetary value P, since for the minute he is the exclusive marketer. It is true that he is curtailing end product compared to what he could bring forth, or compared to what would be produced if all his challengers shared his ain penetration. But they do non portion his penetration ; this is non the relevant option. For the clip being the relevant option to his action is no merchandise at all. It would hence be inappropriate to characterize his action as bring forthing a societal loss given by the public assistance triangle A. On the contrary, his action generates a societal addition given by his ain entrepreneurial net income plus the consumer excess.

( Littlechild: 1981: 358 )

Make Microsoft and Apple merchandises have substitutable opposite numbers? And as other enterprisers enter this market, society will derive farther as net income is eroded and transferred to consumer excess by manner of falling monetary values and spread outing end product. In this regard, we could see monopoly as a mechanism which fulfils a yet unrealized demand, curtailing end product in the early yearss of development and finally transforming into a competitory market.

Littlechild criticises Cowling and Mueller ( 1978 ) in their accent on long tally equilibrium, holding it inappropriate as it ignores net income originating from uncertainness and invention. ( 1981 ) In add-on, Littlechild asserts that the Harberger model has its nature misinterpreted in relation to its extent, continuance, costs and beginnings. ( 1981 ) It is a rareness that any monopolizer is in long tally equilibrium when there is an on-going menace of new entrants and possible competition. Geroski ( 1991 ) found that in the UK over the period 1974-79 an norm of 50 new houses per twelvemonth entered each of the 87 three figure fabricating industries in the survey. It is therefore implausible to presume end product and monetary values remain changeless in the long tally. Finally, Littlechild ( 1981 ) believes that the Cowling-Mueller survey over provinces welfare losingss by non accounting for monetary value favoritism, price reductions and multi portion duties and that station revenue enhancement net incomes overstate the socially uneconomical costs of obtaining a monopoly, as the initial resource proprietors will have some monopoly rents. It can therefore be argued that Littlechild takes the Austrian accent on competition as a procedure, by rejecting the neoclassical long tally equilibrium model for analyzing public assistance losingss due to monopoly, indicating to fluctuation in rates of return within industries as grounds of disequilibrium. ( Reid, 1989 ) Public policy in the Littlechild ( 1981 ) tradition would seek to gnaw barriers to entry, which in itself would disperse public assistance losingss.

Cases against monopoly are frequently woolly ; Ferguson et Al ( 1994 ) illustrates a state of affairs where the monopolizer ‘s cost construction is lower than that of the absolutely competitory house and unnatural net incomes are a map of these lower costs of production[ 6 ], which merely the monopolizer can achieve through barriers to entry. Examples would include entree to curtail engineerings which could spur advanced production procedures, frequently achieved through the Monopolists ain research and development. These resource nest eggs in the monopoly sector license increased end product elsewhere, and if this productive addition outweighs the DWL, there will be an overall betterment in society ‘s public assistance. Needham ( 1978 ) showed through empirical observation that these cost nest eggs need non be that significant for productive efficiency to countervail the allocative loss: a monetary value 20 % above the competitory degree requires merely a cost economy of 4 % when.

On the contrary, the monopolizer ‘s costs may be higher than the tantamount competitory house ‘s costs, merely because the monopolizer can afford to be at least slightly inefficient. Liebenstein ( 1966 ) is credited with the thought of ‘X-inefficiency ‘ : the monopolizer is non minimising costs due to unquantifiable factors such as deficiency of internal motive or lower productiveness of employees due to the absent competitory force per unit area. Likewise, market power may be associated with hyperbolic costs instead than hyperbolic net incomes: providers may squash the monopolizer for higher monetary values in conformity with his agencies. Deadweight loss may be underestimated if costs are non kept to a minimal and we have no warrant that every house with market power is bring forthing at the most efficient point on their production possibilities frontier.

Chicago School economic expert Harold Demetz suggests that high net incomes may non be a signal of market power, since the house with lowest costs will be given to spread out in size and market portion over clip, guaranting an efficient signifier of market leading. ( 1973 ) Despite huge horizontal and perpendicular integrating, the success of Wal-Mart can mostly be attributed to its efficiency and ensuing lower monetary values, paving the manner to a close monopoly place in supermarket ironss. Recognition of these good effects inquiries the traditional neoclassical statement against monopoly. Areas such as proposed efficiencies and cost nest eggs unravel great troubles for policymakers and regulators likewise. In its analysis of the proposed coup d’etat of Aer Lingus by Ryanair ( 2006 ) , the EU Commission found efficiencies from the amalgamation to be deficient to countervail the possible monetary value additions[ 7 ].

Solution to Monopoly

Loeb and Magat ( 1979 ) outline a regulative mechanism whereby the Government subsidises the consumer excess on every unit sold conditional on the Monopolist bear downing the competitory monetary value ( that is, equal to marginal cost ) . The proposal is rather simple: let the Monopolist ( ‘utility ‘ ) to take its monetary value and the regulator will subsidize the public-service corporation on a per unit footing equal to consumer excess at the selected monetary value. If decreases in cost are achieved, so extra net incomes accrue to the public-service corporation. This acts as an inducement to introduce if cost decreases are achieved via technological promotion.

This mechanism would keep competitory monetary values in the short tally ; it can be assumed that rivals would come in in the long tally. In add-on, it is possible that if rivals enter the market, the Government could easy retreat its subsidy, as the monopolizer would now hold to act competitively if he is to last. However, the distributional effects must be considered: the subsidy means forgone outgo in other countries of the economic system, it may hold to be raised via revenue enhancement and it represents a crystalline signifier of income redistribution. Criticisms of this theoretical account by Cox et Al ( 2008 ) argue that the regulator would necessitate to cognize the full demand map to implement the mechanism and that the income redistribution serves as a political barrier to credence. Harrison and McKee ( 1985 ) found that that when applied, the Loeb and Magat mechanism worked efficaciously 4/5 times.


The painstaking undertaking of gauging the deadweight loss associated with monopoly has been given great attending over the last century, but has failed to make a consensual understanding on the exact public assistance losingss which monopolies impose on society. We can take from empirical estimations of deadweight loss that monopoly behavior may non be as public assistance understating as antecedently implied and that the truly unjust consequence of this market construction must lie in its income redistribution. Efficiency additions on the other manus, frequently combat the supposed public assistance losingss through greater end product and economical usage of resources. And as Littlechild ( 1981 ) advocators, monopolies are frequently good to society. The burden of the policymaker seeking to modulate the monopolizer should be to see income redistribution as a prevailing facet of public assistance losingss. The Citigroup Plutonomy sums up the issue of income redistribution best:

We hear so frequently about “ the consumer ” . But when we examine the information, there is no such thing as “ the consumer ” in the U.S. or UK, or other plutonomy states. There are rich consumers, and there are the remainder. ( 2005: 30 )

Reliable empirical grounds on estimations of deadweight loss would greatly help economic experts and regulators likewise. Unfortunately, as the tenor of this paper has indicated, neither of these millenary has yet arrived.

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