Oligopoly is a market structure in which Natural or legal barriers prevent the entry of new firms. A small number of firms compete.


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1 CHAPTER 15: OLIGOPOLY What Is Oligopoly? Oligopoly is a market structure in which Natural or legal barriers prevent the entry of new firms. A small number of firms compete. Barriers to Entry Either natural or legal barriers to entry can create oligopoly. Figure 15.1 shows two oligopoly situations. In part (a), there is a natural duopoly a market with two firms. In part (b), there is a natural oligopoly market with three firms. A legal oligopoly might arise even where the demand and costs leave room for a larger number of firms. Small Number of Firms Because an oligopoly market has a small number of firms, the firms are interdependent and face a temptation to cooperate. Interdependence: With a small number of firms, each firm s profit depends on every firm s actions. Cartel: A cartel and is an illegal group of firms acting together to limit output, raise price, and increase profit. Firms in oligopoly face the temptation to form a cartel, but aside from being illegal, cartels often break down.
2 Two Traditional Oligopoly Models The Kinked Demand Curve Model In the kinked demand curve model of oligopoly, each firm believes that if it raises its price, its competitors will not follow, but if it lowers its price all of its competitors will follow. Figure 15.2 shows the kinked demand curve model. The firm believes that the demand for its product has a kink at the current price and quantity. Above the kink, demand is relatively elastic because all other firm s prices remain unchanged. Below the kink, demand is relatively inelastic because all other firm s prices change in line with the price of the firm shown in the figure. The kink in the demand curve means that the MR curve is discontinuous at the current quantity shown by that gap AB in the figure
3 The next diagram helps to envisage why the kink in the demand curve puts a break in the marginal revenue curve. Fluctuations in MC that remain within the discontinuous portion of the MR curve leave the profitmaximizing quantity and price unchanged. For example, if costs increased so that the MC curve shifted upward from MC0 to MC1, the profitmaximizing price and quantity would not change
4 The beliefs that generate the kinked demand curve are not always correct and firms can figure out this fact. If MC increases enough, all firms raise their prices and the kink vanishes. A firm that bases its actions on wrong beliefs doesn t maximize profit Dominant Firm Oligopoly In a dominant firm oligopoly, there is one large firm that has a significant cost advantage over many other, smaller competing firms. The large firm operates as a monopoly, setting its price and output to maximize its profit. The small firms act as perfect competitors, taking as given the market price set by the dominant firm. Figure 15.3 shows10 small firms in part (a). The demand curve, D, is the market demand and the supply curve S10 is the supply of the 10 small firms
5 The demand curve for the large firm s output is the curve XD on the right. The large firm can set the price and receives a marginal revenue that is less than price along the curve MR. The large firm maximizes profit by setting MR = MC. Let s suppose that the marginal cost curve is MC in the figure. The profitmaximizing quantity for the large firm is 10 units. The price charged is $1.00. The small firms take this price and supply the rest of the quantity demanded In the long run, such an industry might become a monopoly as the large firm buys up the small firms and cuts costs
6 Game Theory: Game theory is a tool for studying strategic behaviour, which is behaviour that takes into account the expected behaviour of others and the mutual recognition of interdependence. We will discuss the following games: Original prisoner s dilemma Oligopoly game Battle of the sexes Game of Chicken Sequential games The Prisoners Dilemma The prisoners dilemma game illustrates the four features of a game. Rules Strategies Payoffs Outcome
7 Each is told that both are suspected of committing a more serious crime. If one of them confesses, he will get a 1year sentence for cooperating while his accomplice get a 10year sentence for both crimes. If both confess to the more serious crime, each receives 3 years in jail for both crimes. If neither confesses, each receives a 2year sentence for the minor crime only. Strategies are all the possible actions of each player. Art and Bob each have two possible actions: 1. Confess to the larger crime. 2. Deny having committed the larger crime. With two players and two actions for each player, there are four possible outcomes: 1. Both confess. 2. Both deny. 3. Art confesses and Bob denies. 4. Bob confesses and Art denies. Payoffs Each prisoner can work out what happens to him can work out his payoff in each of the four possible outcomes. We can tabulate these outcomes in a payoff matrix. A payoff matrix is a table that shows the payoffs for every possible action by each player for every possible action by the other player. A Nash equilibrium (NE) is a set of strategies for which there are NO profitable UNILATERAL deviations for ANY PLAYER.
8 A Dominant strategy is a best response to ANY strategy the rival may choose. Prisoner s dilemma : A game in which it is a DOMINANT STRATEGY for players NOT to choose the cooperative strategy. 1. Original prisoner s dilemma Payoffs Both confess: 10 years each Both don t confess: 1 year each Only 1 confesses: Confess 0, Don t confess 20 Payoff matrix Prisoner B Don t Confess confess
9 Prisoner A Confess Don t confess A s best response function A gets B gets A gets B gets A gets B gets A gets B gets If B confesses then A because If B doesn t confess then A because Similarly for B, therefore NE is because if either player unilaterally altered their strategy their punishment would from to.
10 2. Oligopoly game: United and American Airlines duopoly competition on the Los Angeles Chicago route as estimated by Brander and Zhang (1990). American Airlines United Airlines Q u = 64 Q A = 64 Q A = 48 $ 4.1 million, $ 4.1 million $ 5.1 million, $ 3.8 million Q A = 48 $ 3.8 million, $ 5.1 million $ 4.6 million, $ 4.6 million
11 3. Currently, two groups of firms are fighting to determine the standard for the next generation of DVD players, which feature sixtimes longer playing time and sharper images than previous models. A group led by Toshiba and NEC, with software from Microsoft, produce HD DVD disc. They are opposed by a group led by Sony that includes Dell, Hewlett Packard, Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp, which champions Bluray technology. Each group apparently believes that its product will be more successful if all DVD players can handle its forma, but each group wants to choose its own format. HD DVD group Bluray group HD DVD Standard HD DVD Standard Bluray Standard 3, 11, 1
12 Bluray Standard 1, 1 1,3 4. Battle of the sexes: Bart and Lisa has come to Canada with their family for a vacation. They are now fighting over whether to go to Canada s Wonderland or to visit the Ontario Science Center. They face the following payoff. Lisa Bart Wonderland Science Center Wonderland 2,21, 1 Science Center 1, 1 1,1
13 5. Game of Chicken: Two California teenagers Bill and Ted are playing Chicken. Bill drives his hot rod south down a onelane road, and Ted drives his hot rod north along the same road. Each has two strategies: stay or swerve. If one player chooses swerve he looses face; if both swerve, they both loose face. However, if both choose to stay, they are both killed. The payoff matrix for Chicken looks like this: Ted Bill Stay Swerve Stay 3, 3 2, 0 Swerve 0, 2 1,1
14 Sequential games Assumptions Players choose in sequence First mover can t change their move once the second mover has chosen. (1 st mover is committed) Solution method Can be illustrated using a game tree Is referred to as backward induction Involves a two step procedure
15 Step 1: Find 2 nd mover s best response function. Step 2: Find 1 st mover s choice which takes into account the 2 nd mover s best response function Consider the following payoffs for a game in which CTV and Global must decide whether to broadcast Sports or News at 7pm. Sports Global News CTV Sports CTV earns $12 billion Global earns $30 billion CTV earns $36 billion Global earns $60 billion
16 News CTV earns $24 billion Global earns $120 billion CTV earns $48 billion Global earns $90 billion Firm 1 Firm 2 Enter Do not enter Enter 40, , 0 Do not enter 0, 250 0, 0
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