Capitalistic Musings by Sam Vaknin

By Sam Vaknin

Serious research of the rules and tenets of capitalism and of the dismal technology - economics.

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In it, he strove to explain why firms and managers - and even consumers - prefer oligopolies to both monopolies and completely free markets with numerous entrants. Oligopolies, as opposed to monopolies, attract less attention from trustbusters. Quoted in the Wall Street Journal on March 8, 1999, Galambos wrote: "Oligopolistic competition proved to be beneficial ... " 49 In his recently published tome "The Free-Market Innovation Machine - Analysing the Growth Miracle of Capitalism", William Baumol of Princeton University, concurs.

Standards are known to decrease prices by cutting down R&D expenditures and systematizing components. Or, take innovation. It is used not only to differentiate one's products from the competitors' - but to introduce new generations and classes of products. Only firms with a dominant market share have both the incentive and the wherewithal to invest in R&D and in subsequent branding and marketing. But oligopolies in deregulated markets have sometimes substituted price fixing, extended intellectual property rights, and competitive restraint for market regulation.

The Herfindahl-Hirschmann index squares the market shares of firms in the industry and adds up the total. But the number of firms in a market does not necessarily impart how low - or high - are barriers to entry. These are determined by the structure of the market, legal and bureaucratic hurdles, the existence, or lack thereof of functioning institutions, and by the possibility to turn an excess profit. The index suffers from other shortcomings. Often the market is difficult to define. Mergers do not always drive prices higher.

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