Tag Archives: marketing

Technological advantage and efficiency

10 Aug

creative destruction , technological advantage and efficiency
      Technological advance contributes enormously to economics efficiency. New and better products and processes enable the society to produce more goods at a less price, and produce a higher-valued mix of output.

 Productive efficiency
       Technological advance improves productive efficiency by increasing the productivity of inputs and by reducing the average total costs. In enables society to produce the same amount of goods and services by using fewer resources, so that it frees unused resources and produce something else from them. If society needs now more less-expensive goods, process of innovation helps to gain greater quantity of output by sacrifying fewer resources used as input. We may state that process innovation increase productive efficiency: it reduces society’s cost of whatever mix of goods and services it wants and thus it is an important factor that shifts economy’s production possibilities curve by shifting it rightwards.
Allocative efficiency
   Technological advance used at production process of various goods increase the allocative efficiency by giving society more desired mix of goods and services.  Consumers are willing to buy a new product rather than an older one only if the new one increases the total utility obtained from usage of the same quantity of scarce resources. That’s obviously that new product (and new mix of products) will create a higher total utility for society. That’s why demand for old product declines and demand for the new one increases. High economic profit gained from the new product attracts resources away from less-wanted by society uses to the production of new item.  This shifting of resources continues until marginal cost and marginal benefit equalize each other.
   However, innovation (either of product or price) may create a monopoly power in the market through patents and through other advantages of being first. When a new monopoly power results from an innovation, society may lose a part of its efficiency it otherwise would have gained from this innovation.  The reason is that monopolist may keep product’s price above marginal cost.
   Innovation may reduce or even destroy monopoly power by providing competition somewhere it didn’t previously exist. Economic efficiency is enhance after this event occurs, because this new product helps to push the prices down, close to marginal cost and minimum average total costs (ATV). Innovation that leads to greater competition in an industry reduces output-restrictions and monopoly prices.

Creative Destruction
   Innovation may even generate a creative destruction, in which creation of new products and production methods simultaneously destroys the market position of existing monopolies and old ways of doing business.
   Examples of creative destructions: movies brought new competition to theatres, which can be shown one at a time, but movies latter were challenged by television, aluminum cans and plastic bottles also displaced glass bottles in many uses, e-mail has challenged the postal service.
   Schumpeter says that an innovator will displace any monopolist that no longer delivers superior performance, but this idea is most treated as a wishful thinking nowadays. In this view, idea that creative destruction is automatic, but it neglects somehow the ability of well-established firms to provide shelter by themselves or by lobbying government to do it. This idea ignores differences between legal freedom of entry and economic reality of entering potential newcomers to concentrated industries.
   In this case dominant firm(s) may use strategies as buyouts, selective price-cutting, massive advertising to block the entry and competition from existing rivals and appearing innovative firms. Moreover, some firms may be able to persuade government to give them subsidies, tax-break, tariff-protection to strengthen their market power.
   In conclusion, while innovation increases economic efficiency; in some cases it may lead to expanding of monopoly power. Moreover, innovation may destroy monopoly power, but this process is neither automatic nor inevitable. However, technological change, innovation and efficiency doesn’t always bring monopoly power.

Market structure and R&D Incentive

9 Aug

 Technological Advances
    Does R&D incentive depend on market system? Is a highly competitive industry with thousands of small firms better suited for technological advantage than an industry that is made up of three or four large firms? Or is there another better suited market system?

Market Systems and Technological advance
Let’s describe short-comings and strengths of all four market systems as related to technological advance.
   Pure Competition
   Is there a strong incentive for a pure competitor to initiate R&D researches? A positive factor is that strong competition provides a reason for them to innovate. If a pure competitor doesn’t introduce a new-product or cost-reducing production process, then one or more of his rivals that could drive the firm away from the market. As a matter of short-run profit and long-run survival, a pure competitor is under continual pressure to improve the product and process of production, and to lower the costs through innovation. Also, in pure competitive market there a lot of firms, so there is a greater chance that this improvement in product or process may be found by more firms.
   However, on the negative side, the expected return firm R&D process may be low or even negative because entry is extremely easy the profit from innovation can quickly disappear if the new firms that entered this kind of market structure are using the same new, innovated products and product technology. Also small the fact that the firms are small-sized and get only normal profit in long run leads to several questions if the R&D program is necessary in this case.  Also it’s quite known that technological advance in pure competitive market system hasn’t come from R&D processes of individual firms but from example from government-sponsored researches (for example in agricultural industry fertilizers, new kinds of seed may be discovered by some governmental researches).
Monopolistic Competition
   Unlike firms in pure competition market, the monopolistic competition market’s firms sell differentiated products so they have a strong incentive to engage in product development. This incentive is to make their product different from these produced by competitors, because newly produced goods may create monopoly power and thus economic profit will increase.
   However in this case, like in pure competition market system there is the same negative side. Most monopolistic competitors are small sized-firms, thus their ability to secure inexpensive R&D process is limited. Moreover, monopolistic competitors find it difficult to extract large revenues from technological advantages. Economic profits are only temporary, because the entry to monopolistic competitive industry is relatively easy. In long run new entrants with similar goods reduce the revenues that came from innovation, so that the innovator gets only normal profit in future. Thus monopolistic competitors have relatively low expected rates of return.
Oligopoly
   Oligopoly has many characteristics that permit technological advantage. First of all, large size of oligopolists often helps them to finance R&D process associated with product innovation. Often oligopolists realize economic profit, a part of which is saved. This retained-funding serves as a major source of available and relatively low-cost R&D.  In addition, barriers to entry give assurance that firms will be able to maintain economic profits that these firm gains from innovation. Large volume of sales of oligopolists enables them to spread the cost of R&D equipment and teams of specialized researches over larger quantity of output. Finally, R&D activity in oligopolistics firms helps them to compensate inevitable R&D misses with R&D hits. That’s why oligopolists clearly have great incentive to innovate.
   However R&D activities may not always have positive effect. Oligopolists may not have such a great incentive to induce innovation process. An oligopolist may say that it’s little sense to purchase costly new technology and produce new products if they are currently getting high-economic profits even without them. The oligopolists want to maximize revenues by exploiting fully capital assets. Why to produce an innovative good if the firm is producing economic profits with equipment designed to produce its existing products?  There are many large firms in this kind of market system that have quite modest improvements in R&D process.
Pure Monopoly
   Generally pure monopolists have little incentive to engage in R&D, since it can continue to get economic profits because of entry barriers by maintaining to produce old good. The only incentive for pure monopolists to engage in R&D process is defensive: to reduce the risk of getting bankrupt by appearance of a new product or production process that may destroy it. If there is a possibility to discover a new product that will offer pure monopolists high revenues, they may have an incentive to find it. By doing this, monopolist will try to exploit new product or production process for continued economic profit or until it will get maximum possible profit from the capital that this firm assets. But generally, economists say that pure monopoly is conducting least innovation process.

Inverted-U Theory
inverted U theory
   This information can lead us to discover a new theory called inverted-U theory that makes a relationship between market system and the rate of technological advantage. This theory presents R&D spending as percentage of firm’s revenue (vertical axis) and industry rate concentration (horizontal axis). Inverted-U shape curve states that R&D efforts are weak in very low concentration ratio (pure competition) and very high concentration ration (pure monopoly).
   Firms in industries with very low concentration ratio are mostly competitive ones. They are small so that financing R&D is very difficult. Entry to these industries is easy, which makes difficult to sustain economic profit from non-patented innovations. That’s why firms in these types of market systems spend little from their revenues on R&D. In Contrast,  in the part of the curve where concentration ratio in very high economic profits are very-high so innovation will not add more profit. Moreover, innovation requires costly “retooling” of big firms, which will create a great amount of lost money for whatever addition profit is. That’s why in the right part of the graph the expected rate of return from R&D is very low, and the expenditures on this process are low too. Also, lack of rivals make monopolist to spend less money from their revenues on this process.
   The optimal industry for R&D is the one in which returns from innovation spending are high and the funds to finance this process is available and inexpensive. These factors seem to describe industries in which where there a few very large firms and where concentration ratio is not so high to prohibit competition by smaller rivals. Rivalry among larger oligopolistic firms and competition between larger and smaller firms provide a strong incentive for R&D. The inverted U theory shows that loose oligopoly is the optimal structure for R&D spending.
Market Structure and Technological Advantage: Conclusion
   Other things equal, the optimal market structure for technological advantage seems to be an industry in which there is a mix of large oligopolistic firms (40 to 60 percent concentration ratio) with other smaller innovative firms.
   “Other things equal assumption” is quite important here. If a specific industry is highly technical may be more important determinant for R&D than its structure. While some concentrated industries (like electronics, machineries) spend large quantities of money on R&D and are very innovative, others (like copper, cigarettes) are not. Level of R&D depends on its technical character and technological opportunities in its market structure. Simply, it’s easier to innovate a computer industry than a copper one.
    Conclusion: The inverted-U curve is useful depiction of general relationship between R&D spending and market structure, other things equal.

 

Oligopoly Pricing: A Game Theory Overview

1 Aug

 A Game Theory
   Oligopoly pricing behavior has characteristics of a specific game of strategy. Like chess or poker. The best way to play such a game depends on the way opponent play. Oligopolists (in our case players) must pattern their action according to actions and reactions of rivals. The study of oligopolists behave in this strategic situations is called game theory. We will use game theory model to analyze and explain the pricing behavior of oligopolists. Let’s assume that in our oligopolistic market system are only two firms that produce CDs simply called “A” and “B”. Each firms- “A” and “B”- has a choice of two pricing strategies: increase the price or lower it. The profit of each firm depends on what strategy it chooses and what strategy its rival chooses.
   There are four combinations of strategies possible for these two firms, and letter cells in the table below express them. For example, cell W represents low-price strategy of firm “B” and high-price strategy of firm “A”. This table is called payoff matrix because its cells represent the profit(payoff) each firm makes that result from combination of strategies of firms “A” and “B”. Cell W represents that after firm “A” chooses to adopt high-price strategy and firm “B” chooses to adopt low-price strategy, then firm “B” will make 4 million dollars and firm “A” will make only 1 million.
Game Theory
Mutual Interdependence
   The Data in the payoff matrix are just hypothetical one, but relationship is very realistic. Remind the fact that oligopolistic firms can increase their revenues, and influence rival’s profits, by changing its price strategies. Each firm’s payoff depends on its own pricing policy and that of its rival. This mutual interdependence in economics is very well demonstrated by figure above. If both firm “A” and firm “B” adopt a high-price strategy then revenue of each one will be 3 million of dollars. If firm “A” uses a low-price strategy while firm “B” uses a high-price strategy then firm “A” will increase its market share and profit from 3 to 4 million of dollars, however firm “B” will lose 1 million of dollars, since its revenues will decrease from 2 million to 1 million of dollars. So, firm “B” high-price policy will be efficient only if firm “A” will also choose to employ a high-price strategy.
Collusive Tendency
   The figure above suggests that oligopolists will benefit from collusion, or better said cooperation with rivals. An example of benefit can be when both firms are following high-price strategies, so each firm will get a profit of 3 million of dollars (cell X).
   Note that either firm “A” or firm “B” can increase its profit by switching from high-price to lo-price policy. So, the profit can become 4 million of dollars, but the firm that keeps high-price policy will get only 1 million of dollars as revenue. If the firm that right now employs high-price strategy switches to low-price strategy will increase its revenues by 1 million so it will be able to collect 2 million (cell Z). The effect of all this will be switching the profits from 3 million (cell X) to ones which worth 2 million (cell Z).
   In real situation, however independent actions of oligopolists may lead to competitive low-price strategies, which clearly will be beneficial to consumers but not also to oligopolists whose profits will decrease.
   How can oligopolists avoid low-profit outcome of cell Z? They may collude, rather that installing independent and competitive price. Each firm will increase its profits from 2 to 3 million dollars (from cell Z to cell X).
Cheating
   The payoff matrix explains why oligoplists may be tempted to cheat on a collusive agreement. Suppose that our firms “A” and “B” agree to maintain high-price policy, both of them earning 3 million of dollars (cell X). Both firms are tempted to cheat so that they will be able to increase their revenues to 4 million of dollars. If firm “A” cheats and diminishes its prices then it will increase its revenues from 3 to 4 million of dollars (cell Y), while if firm “B” cheats secretly and moves to low-price policy while firm “A” keeps high-price policy then firm “B” will increase its revenues by 1 million of dollars moving from cell X to cell W.

Oligopoly Market System

28 Jul

Oligopoly
   Oligopoly is a market system that is dominated by few big suppliers of homogeneous or differentiated products. Because there are few firms, oligopolists have great control over prices, but they should consider reaction of rivals after they change price of goods, output quantity and amount of money spent on advertising.
Producers
   The phrase “few large producers” is one necessary to describe this kind of market system. Some examples of oligopoly can be two or three zinc producers in Sweden, or five or six producers of auto parts in U.K. When you will read in some magazines at economics about Big Three, Big Four or Big Five, you may be sure that there is described an oligopoly.
 Homogeneous or Differentiated Products
   An oligopoly may be either homogeneous or differentiated one, since the firms in this kind of market system produce a standardized or differentiated product. Many industrial goods( aluminum, lead, cement) are standardized products that are supplied in oligopolies. However, other goods (like cigarettes, automobiles, breakfast cereals) are produced in differentiated oligopolies. Last kind of oligopoly engages in non-price competition by heavy advertising.
   Price and mutual interdependence
   Since in oligopolies there are few firms, each one is a price-maker, like monopolists the y may set the price and output level for their goods, so that these firms control the revenue. However, unlike monopolists (since there are no competitors), oligopolists should consider the reaction of rivals to this changes in price, output, product’s characteristics and money spent on advertising. Thus Oligopolists are described by mutual interdependence: a situation in which firm’s profits doesn’t depend completely on its price and sales policy, but also on that of rivals. For example, before increasing the price of its drinks Pepsi should predict the response of other major producers, like Coca-Cola.
   Entry-Barriers
   Similar entry barriers created in pure monopoly are also created in oligopoly. Economies of scale are a factor that serves as barrier to entry in some oligopolistic industries, such as aircraft, car-producing, and cement industries. In this kind of industries three or four firms control the market supply, so that they have enough money to produce economies of scale, but other firms even if they will want to enter this market will have a small market share so that they won’t be able to have enough revenues to produce economies of scale. They would be high-cost producers, so that these firms won’t be able to survive in this industry.
   Ownership and control of raw materials are another explanation why it’s very difficult to enter in oligopolistic market system. Oligopolists also prevent the entry of new competitors by preemptive pricing and advertising strategies.
Mergers
   Some oligopolies have started because of very fast growth of dominant firms in some industries. But other however, produced an oligopoly by merging with other competing firms. Merging or combination of two or more firms may increase their revenues and economies of scale, because of increased market share they got.
   Another explanation of “urge to merge” is the want for a higher monopolistic power, since larger firm has a greater control over market supply and on the price of its product. Also, because of higher economies of scale they get less costs on producing some goods and services than their rivals.
Is merge between google and facebook possible, but also profitable?Is merge between Google and Facebook possible and also profitable?

Regulation of Monopoly

25 Jul

Regulations
   Sometimes natural monopolies are subjected to price regulation (rate regulation), although more important for now is to deregulate those markets where competitions is possible. Some examples may be provincial and municipal commissions that regulate the price of gas, electricity that suppliers are charging.

Regulation of Monopoly
   In the figure above it is presented the regulation of local monopoly, for example the distributor of electricity. In this figure there are plotted demand curve and cost curves that our supplier is facing. Because of economies of scale demand curve cuts ATC curve at a point where this curve is still falling, so it’s inefficient to have more firms in this industry because each of them would produce a smaller quantity of output, thus they will operate at a point which is much more inefficient than for just one operating firm, since in short run their ATC will be higher than for just one single firm. So in this case it’s better to have just one seller.
   We know from MR=MC rule that Qm and Pm are profit maximizing output and price that is more likely to be chosen by monopolist. At the quantity Qm the produce will enjoy an economic profit. Since price exceeds marginal then an underallocation of resources (allocative inefficiency) is being present. How can government regulate the price so that this will bring better results for the entire society?

Social Optimal Price P=MC
   If the regulatory commission has the task to achieve the allocative efficiency then it will attempt to set a price where P  will be equal with MC. Each point on demand curve shows a price-quantity combination. So, at point “r” we will have Pr which is equal to marginal cost.
   Confronted with price Pr monopolists will maximize profits or minimize losses by producing Qr units of output. By making it illegal to charge a price higher than Pr , the firm won’t be able to produce other quantity of goods to increase the revenues.
   The regulatory commission can stimulate allocative efficiency to be produced by imposing the only legal price Pr and letting the monopolist to choose its profit-maximizing or loss-minimizing output. So, production will take place at point where Pr=MC, and this equality will indicate an efficient allocation of resources to this good or service. The price that achieves allocative efficiency is called socially optimal price.

Fair-Return Price P=ATC
   Social Optimal price, Pr, may be so low that the firm won’t be able to cover its average total costs (ATC). The result may be a loss for the firm. In our figure average total costs are more likely to be higher than Pr at the intersection of MR (P)=MC curve. Therefore forcing this firm to operate at social optimal price may result in short-run losses or even in bankruptcy in long-run.
   What to do in this case? One solution is to provide subsidies by government that will cover these losses. Another option for regulatory commission is to modify the allocative efficiency policy P=MC, so that firms may establish a fair-return price. In this case firms will have only a normal profit and this price is determined by intersection of ATC and demand curves (in our case point “f”). So Pf permits a fair returnfor firms. The corresponding output for this price will be Qf. In this case the firm will realize only a normal profit.

Regulation’s Dilemma
   Comparing results given by socially optimal price (MC=P) and fair-return price (P=ATC) sometimes and dilemma, called dilemma of regulation arises. When the price is set to achieve allocative efficiency ( P=MC) regulated monopoly is more likely to suffer losses. Conversely, when the price is set for productive efficiency/ fair-return price (P=ATC) monopolists can cover its costs, but in this case underallocation of resources problem is solved only partially, since the quantity output increases from Qm to Qf, while the social optimal price is Qr. Besides this dilemma regulations can improve results of monopoly from social point of view. Price regulation process reduces price, increases output, and reduces economic profit of monopolies.

Output and Price Determination in Pure monopoly

21 Jul

Pure Monopoly output and price determination
So at what price-quantity combination will pure monopolists choose to operate?
     MC=MR Rule
The monopolist seeking to maximize its profits will have the same rationale as a firm in a competitive industry. It will produce one more unit of output only if it adds more to total revenue than to total cost. The firm will increase its output till the point where MR=MC.
One more way to find profit-maximizing output is by comparing total revenue and total cost at each quantity of production. The quantity for which this difference has the greatest possible value is the one which offers maximum profit.
No Monopoly Supply Curve
   In pure competitive market MR=P (price) and supply curve of a pure competitive firm is determined by applying P=MR=minimum ATC profit-maximizing rule, so in a pure market the seller will maximize profit by supplying the amount of goods for which MC= P. Thus, in a pure competitive market the amount of goods produced depends on the price.
   We may say that pure monopolist’s marginal-cost curve will be also its supply curve, but it is wrong. The pure monopolist has no supply curve, because there is no a unique relation between quantity supplied and price set by a monopolist. Like pure competitor firm, monopolist equalizes MR with MC to determine the quantity output, but for monopolists marginal revenue is less than price. Also, because monopolist doesn’t equalize marginal cost to price, it may have different prices for the same amount of output.

Misconceptions about Monopoly Pricing
Highest Price
   People often believe that monopolists will try to get highest possible price for their goods and services, because they can manipulate price, but this statement isn’t correct. There are some prices for which monopolists will get smaller-than-maximum profit, so they will try to avoid them. Monopolists are trying to get maximum total profit, but not maximum price. Some High prices will reduce dramatically quantity sold and total revenue, so that monopolists will try to produce a decrease in cost.
Profit
   Monopolists seek maximum total product, not maximum unit profit. They will choose smaller unit profit, not the maximum one, because additional sales add to total revenue. For example a profit-seeking monopolist will sell five units of a good at 37$ (total profit 185$) than four units at 40$ (total profit 160$)
Losses
   Monopolists are more likely to get economic profit than pure competitor.  In long run pure competitor is destined to get only normal profit, but price adjustment ability and barriers at entry at monopolists offer them possibility to get economic profit.
   But pure monopoly doesn’t always guarantee profit. It is neither immune to change in taste of consumers that reduces demand for the product nor to change in price of resources. So an industry can suffer great losses because of relatively low demand and high resource prices.
   Like pure competitors, monopolists won’t continue to operate in an industry where they get continued losses. So if they are faced with this situation, pure monopolists may move their resources to alternative uses that offer better opportunities for economic profit. Thus, monopolies can also realize normal profit in long run.

“Invisible hand” in economics

29 Jun

“Invisible Hand” in Economics
Firms and resource suppliers want to increase their revenue and seek their own self-interest, so that they are like guided by an “invisible hand”. In this environment businesses are the least costly producers of goods and services, because this is their interest is to get higher revenues. In the same way, using few resources to produce goods is in interest of demanders.
Businesses want to make higher profits; resource suppliers want higher rewards, so both of them manipulate resources usage order to get best allocation of them for the entire society.
Competition of self-interests unintentionally furthers fulfilling of society’s needs. The “invisible hand” maximizes profits of firms and also it maximizes the output and wish-fulfillment.
Most important characteristics of market system are:

  • Efficiency- Market system produce only that goods and services that are most demanded by society. It forces using the most efficient techniques of production, so that in increases the total output.
  • Incentives- Market system requires hard-work and innovation. So ones who are working a lot, get better results and efficiency, so that they also get higher revenues. Implementation of new efficient production techniques also offers higher revenues.
  • Freedom-Firms and industries can enter or leave the industry when they want. Entrepreneurs and labour force are free to seek their own self-interest, so that they may get better results or big losses.

Key Terms:
Invisible Hand-The ten­dency of firms and resource suppliers seeking to further their own self-interests in com­petitive markets to also promote the interests of society as a whole.

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