Monopoly is a market situation in which there is only one seller of a product with barriers to entry of others. The product has no close substitutes. The cross elasticity of demand with every other product is very low. This means that no other firms produce a similar product. According to D. Salvatore, “Monopoly is the form of market organisation in which there is a single firm selling a commodity for which there are no close substitutes.” Thus the monopoly firm is itself an industry and the monopolist faces the industry demand curve.
The demand curve for his product is, therefore, relatively stable and slopes downward to the right, given the tastes, and incomes of his customers. It means that more of the product can be sold at a lower price than at a higher price. He is a price-maker who can set the price to his maximum advantage.
However, it does not mean that he can set both price and output. He can do either of the two things. His price is determined by his demand curve, once he selects his output level. Or, once he sets the price for his product, his output is determined by what consumers will take at that price. In any situation, the ultimate aim of the monopolist is to have maximum profits.
CHARACTERISTICS OF MONOPOLY
The main features of monopoly are as follows:
1. Under monopoly, there is one producer or seller of a particular product and there is no difference between a firm and an industry. Under monopoly a firm itself is an industry.
2. A monopoly may be individual proprietorship or partnership or joint stock company or a cooperative society or a government company.
3. A monopolist has full control on the supply of a product. Hence, the elasticity of demand for a monopolist’s product is zero.
4. There is no close substitute of a monopolist’s product in the market. Hence, under monopoly, the cross elasticity of demand for a monopoly product with some other good is very low.
5. There are restrictions on the entry of other firms in the area of monopoly product.
6. A monopolist can influence the price of a product. He is a price-maker, not a price-taker.
7. Pure monopoly is not found in the real world.
8. Monopolist cannot determine both the price and quantity of a product simultaneously.
9. Monopolist’s demand curve slopes downwards to the right. That is why, a monopolist can increase his sales only by decreasing the price of his product and thereby maximise his profit. The marginal revenue curve of a monopolist is below the average revenue curve and it falls faster than the average revenue curve. This is because a monopolist has to cut down the price of his product to sell an additional unit.
The above two conditions between themselves make the average revenue curve of the individual seller or firm perfectly elastic, horizontal to the X-axis. It means that a firm can sell more or less at the ruling market price but cannot influence the price as the product is homogeneous and the number of sellers very large.