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The Degree of Competition within Markets
Economic competition, or rivalry among competitors, often leads to
lower prices and the introduction of differentiated products. For exam-
ple, videocassette recorders sold for more than $1,500 when they were
introduced. After a few short years, the price dropped to less than 20
percent of that figure. In addition, the first videocassettes could record
only two hours of programming, but today eight-hour videocassettes
are available from numerous new competitors. Cellular telephones have
gone the same route.
Foreign and domestic competition influences the interaction of sup-
ply and demand forces. The degree of competition varies widely from
industry to industry. Some industries are extremely competitive, with
numerous competing firms, while others are dominated by one or two
companies with large shares of the market. The competitive market
structure of an industry–that is, the number of competing firms and the
size of the market each competitor holds–strongly influences business
strategies. Pure competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and
monopoly are the four basic types of competitive market structure.
Pure competition exists when there are no barriers to competition.
Many small competing firms offer almost identical products, and there
are many buyers. This means there is a steady supply of and demand for
the product, and therefore the price is controlled by neither the buy-
ers nor the sellers; rather, the forces of supply and demand determine
prices. An individual producer can make more money by producing and
The principal characteristic ofmonopolistic competition is product
differentiation—a large number of sellers, for example, selling similar
products differentiated (distinguished) by only minor changes in prod-
uct design, style, or technology. Firms engaged in monopolistic compe-
tition have enough influence on the marketplace to exert some control
over their own prices.
Oligopoly, the third type of market structure, is an industry controlled
by a few large firms. The distinguishing characteristic of an oligopoly,
however, is not the size of the company as measured by assets or sales
volume but its control over the marketplace as measured by its share of
the market. Each company in an oligopoly has a strong influence on
product offering, price, and market structure within the industry.
Industries with only one producer firm are called monopolies. In a
monopoly, no substitute products are available and the monopolist may
charge any price. The monopolist will set the price to maximize its profits.
Look through the text once again and characterize each type of competi-
tive market structure. Give your own examples.
Read and translate the following terms:peak, boom, recession, capacity utilization
rate, expansion, unemployment rate, downturn, depression, trough, upturn. Read the
text and be ready to explain what each of them means.
Date: 2015-12-13; view: 264; Нарушение авторских прав