Knowing about Cartel


A cartel is a group of firms combining to restrict output and raise price, the aim being to balance as a collective monopoly. Each firm in a cartel agrees to produce less than it would under unrestrained competition, in order to drive the price up so that all in the group will benefit.

Cartels can only raise prices by cutting firm outputs. But at the higher prices, member firms are motivated to produce even more than at competitive equilibrium. So the more successful the cartel, the greater the incentive to chisel. Carters therefore require enforcement devices to prevent chiseling. In a number of European countries, the law may treat a cartel agreement as a legality enforceable contract. Some jurisdictions take a neutral position: the cartel agreement is not unlawful, but the power of the state will not enforce it. Finally, the law may be actively hostile to cartels as “consipiracies in restraint of trade.” In such a situation a cartel would require enforcement devices that are both effective and secret—an unlikely combination when any detected chiseler can complain to the authorities.

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