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> American chicken monopoly run by the likes of Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride and Perdue.

That's not what "monopoly" means.

Is "cartel" the word they are looking for?

Cartel implies a degree of collusion.

Oligopoly seems like the most accurate word choice.

"American chicken oligopoly" just doesn't have the same ring to it, lol

What about "American chicken coalition"?

I would be surprised if there wasn't collusion.

cartels are inherently unstable and very hard to maintain, plus it's outlawed. I'd be surprised if there is one.

They are not so hard to maintain when everyone acts rationally. You don't need overt collusion as long as everyone acts in a consistent manner and doesn't try to compete.

Cartel is probably much closer than monopoly.

Oh god, why is everyone here so pedantic.

"Monopoly" in this sense is meant to indicate that one is put in a bad negotiating position because the power/options are consolidated into few hands that can demand bargains that are beneficial to their side thus, in this case, disadvantaging Costco.

Every time you use the word "monopoly" it doesn't have to have an exact 1:1 relationship with a law 101 textbook definition.

"Monopoly" in this sense is wrong, because Costco has more than 5 suppliers that they can choose from to buy what they want, and they are getting chicken for really low prices. No one is getting extorted here, except for the farmers, and Costco is just looking to take advantage of them the same way the big chicken companies do. Chicken is half the price than grapes in a lot of places, by weight. It's insanely cheap.

The real travesty is that these companies hold regional monopsonies so the farmers can only sell to one company, putting them in a bad spot where the chicken companies can dictate terms. Costco wants to be able to do that directly to farmers too, without the middle man.

Yup. That's an oligopoly. If a monopoly, the pricing and service would've been so bad that they'd have tried this sooner.

'Monopoly' seems to have become a completely meaningless word. I think it now sort of vaguely means a marketplace or any number of successful companies doing their own thing, and people complaining about a monopoly just seem to be complaining that there are any number of existing successful companies in a space they'd either like to be in as well, or that a company won't do exactly what they want.

Monopoly seems to refer more to "monopoly power" in general and the barriers to entry that exist to protect entrenched interests from competition. Duopolies and oligopolies all have a degree of "monopoly power" without being a true monopoly.

It has lost its ring because too many people are casually throwing it around. I'd prefer "entrenched rent extractors" followed up with some evidence of how they're rent seeking rather than competing. Sure it doesn't have the same ring to it but it is more specific about what kinds of symptoms of disfunction to look for.

I've noticed this as well. Really weird change in the words meaning.

It'a not that weird if you follow the literature.

One of the fundamental aspects of a monopoly is the ability to set prices and therefore extract money from customers without providing additional value- like a tax or a rent.

Whenever few enough competitors exist that a company can begin to tax or collect rent without providing additional value, it takes on monopolistic characteristics.

> in a space they'd either like to be in as well

But that's exactly what monopoly means, i.e. you can't get in and compete with those players.

It sounds like you are justifying monopolized markets for whatever reason.

"Mono" means ONE. Literally the number 1. Monopoly generally means ONE supplier that controls the entire marketplace.

There are other forms of market failure relating to a small group having too much power in the market: Monopoly, Cartel, Oligopoly, Monopsony, etc. etc.

Oligopoly or Cartel are far closer to what the article is describing. To use the word "Monopoly" here is simply incorrect English.

Etymology provides a good basis for guessing the general meaning of words you don't know, but it's hardly the authority on nuances of meaning. Many words have taken tangentially-related or even opposite senses from their roots in other languages.

The meanings of words shifts based on their usage. I'm old enough to recognize that the meaning of words change.

Nonetheless, economic principles have a precise, technical definition for Monopoly, Duopoly, Monopsony, Oligopoly, Cartel, and Oligopsony.

Each situation requires a different policy to handle. So its important to choose the right word to describe any particular problem.

Oh yeah, I agree with the conclusion. Weakening of technical terms makes clear discussion of these abstract topics in a casual context exponentially more difficult.

I just don't see that argument-from-etymology is a productive way to get there since it doesn't seem to generalize.

yes, a monopoly is dominated by one large supplier (or in the case of a buyer, monopsony). but that doesn't mean that there is only one market participant. it doesn't even mean that the dominant player has the majority market share.

like any field of study, people apply words outside of the technical application and meaning gets diluted the further a person is from the field (economics). just look at how superhero movies use the word 'dimension'. =)

but yes, without examining the industry in more detail, oligopoly is the safer initial assumption.

Literal meaning of the word is absolutely irrelevant. Historically monopoly was about granted status, but it's mostly a theoretical concept today, where everyone is in the middle between monopoly and perfect competition. You can say that if it's not competitive enough, it's a monopoly.

> You can say that if it's not competitive enough, it's a monopoly.

A market that is not competitive enough is an 'oligopoly'. That's the word you want. Why do you want to move the definition of 'monopoly' when we already have the word 'oligopoly'?

I don't want to move the definition, my definition is fine and is shared among many people. Yours is the one I think is wrong. You shouldn't imply that oligopoly is not a form of monopoly. It absolutely is.

> You shouldn't imply that oligopoly is not a form of monopoly.

But the article said 'monopoly', not 'oligopoly'.

Monopoly is a form of oligopoly. But oligopoly is not a form of monopoly.

All monopolies are oligopolies. Not all oligopolies are monopolies.

This chicken situation is maybe an oligopoly. It isn't a monopoly.

If you think a situation with multiple supplies and limited competition is a monopoly, then I'd ask you... why do we also have the term oligopoly? What do you think the difference is?

You can argue that all laypeople should use the terms that specialists use, or you can accept that people use words differently and try to understand people when they write/speak.

The latter is far, far easier and actually achievable.

This is the first time I've encountered people using the word monopoly incorrectly like this. I'm not really minded to just roll over and accept wrong usage because a few other people object - the usage is wrong so they need to improve their English.

Also for what it's worth I don't believe the article author misunderstands the word monopoly. I think they abused it to get clicks.

> Where on earth did I imply oligopoly is not a form of monopoly?

> But oligopoly is not a form of monopoly.

This is wrong, sorry.

It's the other way around, since we are talking about market economies, not literal meanings of words.

What do you think a monopoly is? What would you definition be?

As I pointed out earlier, I think of markets on a scale between perfect competition and monopoly. Which I believe is common view. So anything can be described as monopoly if it's not competitive enough.

You don't need any specialized degree to distinguish between the two, and it is frankly not that difficult that laypeople would have difficulty grasping the difference. I prefer not to contribute to the declining precision of language whenever possible. I think saying that "an oligopoly is conceptually similar enough to a monopoly to use interchangeably" is a slide towards hyperbole. This kind of imprecision, but with a sinister bias towards the more extreme version of a word, is subtly making public discourse more polarizing and antagonistic.

Did you try checking the dictionary?


Even better: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/oligopoly

Oligopoly _specifically_ describes what we have here. I learned a new word today.

From your link: "the exclusive possession or control of something", "a company or group that has such control".

You must be trolling.

I'm not. But I do find it interesting how some people here don't like certain definitions and claim they are wrong.

You're describing markets the ways journalists are joked[1] about describing guns. Except you're doubling down and saying "No, you're wrong. All assault rifles are AK-47s, everyone knows what I mean when I say an AK-47, you know, a gun that shoots bullets fast and stuff!"

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/3h74f3/a_journalists...

You're the one that linked the dictionary the says "or group"...

A "group" in a business sense isn't distinct, unrelated entities.

The company I work for is the "something something group".

You claim our definitions are wrong as well!

>Literal meaning of the word is absolutely irrelevant.

Well, to that I say: "Pelecie inoteso su erik anohot fete derera notel not. Toyino litifid ca yigo lece yevi vitod emefan berie nisur, cinim pociepem oce irimo alucetef cupara yonebup eroyifeh oponud."

If the literal definition of words is absolutely irrelevant, then this is a cogent argument that perfectly refutes your position.

> Historically monopoly was about granted status

Historically, monopoly was about single players taking over the economic system. There are other, better words to use if you aren't describing ONE powerful company.

Carnegie Steel Company. Rockefeller's Oil. Ma Bell. ONE supplier, across the entire USA.

You're not winning this argument from etymology (where Mono literally means one), or historical. Ma Bell's breakup was as recent as 1980s, this isn't some "ancient history" here, its modern US history.

Standard Oil was never a literal monopoly, there was always some competition. They had about 90% of the market at their peak, and it was down to about 70% when they were broken up.

True monopolies, e.g. Bell Telephone, local cable franchises, utilities, etc. are (almost?) always granted by the government.

You get local monopolies even if the government freely allows multiple companies to string wires.

> ... monopoly ... players.

Crucially, the "mono-" bit means "one." One seller.

1 < n ⪅ 5 is "oligopoly".

If they collude and conspire it's a "cartel", but technically a cartel can also be a subset of players in a "polyopoly" (which is "many sellers", i.e. a healthy market). It's just way easier if the cartel = everyone :)

"Monopoly" literally means there is only one player in the market, or that one player has a hugely dominant position.

If the suggested "Cartel" doesn't work, there's also "Oligopoly"[0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligopoly

Both cartels and oligopolies are just more specific ways to achieve monopolies.

> Both cartels and oligopolies are just more specific ways to achieve monopolies.

"Market Failure" is the word you're looking for. And there's LOTS of ways to achieve Market Failure.

Your vocabulary of economic terms is limited and imprecise. If you study economics more, you'll certainly appreciate the amount of work that the field has put into definitions and policies.

These details are important, especially in a democracy where we voters are the ones who ultimately decide upon the fate of our country. We all have to have basic economic knowledge of these Market Failure conditions, as well as the policies available to combat them.

> But that's exactly what monopoly means, i.e. you can't get in and compete with those players.

This isn't exactly what monopoly means. Have you tried looking in a dictionary to see what it does mean?

I tried to help him out, to no avail: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18941848

I'm not suggesting or implying this is happening in the chicken industry but an oligopoly that is colluding can act as a monopoly.

That's called a cartel.

CNBC is a major news organization, so they generally should be using English correctly. I think a blog post can have technical errors here and there, but the standards for a proper news article are higher.

CNBC is a major news organization, so they generally should be using English correctly

Doesn't make it an interesting topic of conversation.

American culture is innumerate, you have to use words they understand.


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