Monopoly Regulation


Monopoly is usually considered to lead to economic inefficiency. Excessive monopoly profits are commonly regarded as unfair to consumers. Policies for dealing with monopoly range from laissez faire or toleration at one extreme to “trust-busting” at the other. Another possibility is to put monopolistic enterprises under government ownership, as is commonly done in Europe for railroads and telephone service. Regulation of the monopoly’s price and quantity or quality of service by a government agency is important. In the US regulation is standard practice for privately owned ‘public utilities’ providing goods and services such as electric power, water and gas, telephone, and transportation—usually thought to be natural monopolies.

The standard philosophy of regulation aims at limiting the monopolist to a ‘normal profit.’ Normal profit is supposed to be just adequate to attract needed capital and other resources into the business, but not so high as to represent exploitation of consumers. Normal profit in the accounting sense corresponds to zero economic profit. Zero economic profit characterizes long-run equilibrium in perfect competition. In a sense regulation achieves the result that may occur if competition is possible.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Cardinal versus Ordinal


What do we mean when we say that a variable is “quantitatively measurable”?We do not necessarily mean that there is only a single way of measuring or scaling it. Temperature is certainly quantitatively measurable, but there are alternative ways of doing so. For example, 320 Fahrenheit is 00 Celsius, and each degree up or down of Celsius corresponds to 1.8 degrees up or down of Fahrenheit. The two scales differ, but only in zero point and unit interval. Similarly, altitude could be measured from sea level or from the center of the earth (shift of zero point) and in feet or meters (shift of unit interval). Both temperature and altitude are more technically called cardinal magnitudes, variables which have the following property: that, regardless of shift of zero-point and unit interval, the relative magnitudes of differences remain the same. In case of altitude, for example, there’s a bigger difference between the heights of the base and crest of Mount Everest than between the ground floor and roof of even the tallest building. This remains true whether we scale altitude in feet or meters or whether we measure it from sea level or from the center of the earth. If people can state that they prefer two million to one million—but not by how much—their utility is said to be an “ordinal” magnitude. Put another way, if Total Utility is an ordinal magnitude we cannot say anything about the  size of Marginal Utility but we can still say whether Marginal Utility is positive or negative.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.