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EconNews Online is South-Western's service to provide summaries of the latest economics news stories. Review the brief summaries and, for stories of interest, select the full summary.
MONOPOLY
Title  Brief Summary 
Reduce Corruption by Coordinating Extortionists
Full Summary 
Two economists have discovered that extortionists in developing countries behave like economists. Is that a good thing?
(Updated May, 2007)
Can a Merger Between Sirius and XM Radio Really Make People Better Off?
Full Summary 
Recently, a merger between Sirius and XM, the two satellite radio stations, was announced. The merger would create the only satellite radio station, and the firms announced that such a merger was really in the best interests of all consumers. Are they Sirius - I mean, serious?
(Updated March, 2007)
Deregulation Doesn't Make Electricity Market More Competitive
Full Summary 
After deregulation, prices in the trucking, airline and long-distance telephone markets all fell, some more significantly than others. But ten years after opening up the utilities market to competitive forces, no such price reductions have appeared. Why?
(Updated October, 2006)
At the Heart of the Matter
Full Summary 
Canada seems to be determined to continue its war against drug companies. Just when pharmaceutical firms thought that they had prevented Canada from supplying U.S. citizens with cheap drugs from across the border, a Canadian firm ignored a patent and issued a generic drug on its own. The companies owning the patent were not happy.
(Updated September, 2006)
Should we see King Kong for $8, or The Ring 2 for $4?
Full Summary 
Fly on an airplane, and you can bet that you didn't pay the same airfare as the person sitting next to you. Go to a restaurant before 5:30, and pay an "early bird" reduced dinner price for the exact same meal that someone else will pay triple that price for at 7:30. Why shouldn't the same pricing strategy apply to moviegoers?
(Updated March, 2006)
US Postal Service raises prices...again
Full Summary 
Beginning on January 8, 2006, the price of a first-class stamp rose by two cents, from 37 to 39 cents.
(Updated February, 2006)
A Postal Rate Increase? AGAIN???
Full Summary 
The US Postal Service will probably be seeking an increase in its postage rates to cover what it calls "inflationary pressures."
(Updated January, 2005)
Dentsply Monopoly: A Test of Antitrust Law's Teeth
Full Summary

Dentsply, the dominant supplier of artificial teeth, is alleged to have engaged in illegal exclusive-dealing arrangements with its dealers, contributing to its monopoly position and higher prices than would otherwise have occurred.

(Updated October 10, 2002)

Prescription Drug Import Laws Prove Addictive for Producers
Full Summary

Congress is taking steps to permit prescription drug imports from Canada. It is hoped that lower Canadian prices will reduce domestic drug prices, benefiting consumers and Medicare. Drug producers and other parts of government worry about the safety of the drugs.

(Updated December 1, 2001)

European Airlines: Too Many For Their Own Good?
Full Summary  
Airline travel has fallen since September 11. Losses and layoffs abound. The European Commission would like to see more airline consolidation, rather than huge subsidies.
(Updated November 1, 2001)
Companies Find Variety of Prices to be the Spice of Life
Full Summary  
Companies are increasingly using computer technology to charge consumers different prices in order to maximize revenues. This will be limited by the reactions of consumers to differential pricing and the release of information about buying habits to companies.
(Updated September 1, 2001)
Telecom Act Sends Unclear Signals
Full Summary  
The Telecom Act of 1986 has made little progress in increasing competition in the telephone market. It is costly for companies to enter the local market, while local Bells have little incentive to give up their local monopolies and compete in the low-margin long distance market.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
French Post Office Tries to Look Cool
Full Summary  
The French post office is losing its monopoly, so it is recasting its staid image to one of a modern electronic business.
(Updated April 1, 2001)
Flying the Unfriendly Skies
Full Summary
TWA has agreed to be taken over by American Airlines. Although American denies it, experts expect that fares will increase and service be reduced, especially on routes dominated by TWA and American.
(Updated February 1, 2001)
Power to the People -- At Reduced Prices
Full Summary
The deregulation of the energy industry has led to efficiencies that have facilitated lower prices. The savings vary, however.
(Updated October 1, 2000)
State Negotiates Drug Deals
Full Summary 
Maine has passed a law allowing the state to negotiate lower drug prices for residents without prescription insurance, and to impose price controls if prices do not fall. The industry association alleges that the law is unconstitutional.
(Updated September 1, 2000)
Airline Amalgamations
Full Summary
United Airlines plans to take over US Airways. It promises better customer service and stable fares. Consumers and politicians do not agree in view of the airlines' track record since deregulation in 1978.
(Updated August 1, 2000)
Wholesale Change in Drug Prices Likely
Full Summary 
Drug companies charge medical providers less than wholesale price, yet the providers still charge federal and state medical programs the wholesale price. This practice is leading the Justice Department and the state attorneys general to investigate.
(Updated July 1, 2000)
Drug Discrimination
Full Summary 
A Republican senator is sponsoring legislation that would prevent drug companies from charging higher prices in the U.S. than in Canada or Mexico. The drug companies retort that it would hurt consumers, the industry, and research.
(Updated June 1, 2000)
FCC Is Making Waves In The Radio Business
Full Summary 
The Federal Communications Commission is planning to allow low-power radio stations to broadcast over a four-mile radius. Radio programs should become more diverse as a result. Full-power stations are opposed because their broadcasts could be disrupted. They also appear to be concerned about the impending competition they face.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Judge's Decision Opens (Bill) Gates to Lawsuits
Full Summary 
A judge has found that Microsoft is a monopoly. Lawyers are beginning to file private class-action lawsuits accusing the company of harming consumers. Microsoft may settle the government's case to minimize its liability in the private suits.
(Updated January 1, 2000)
Cranberry Giant Made to Look Like a Turkey
Full Summary
Ocean Spray dominates the cranberry juice market. It obtains its berries from a cooperative of farmers. However, its control of the market has been weakened by a breakaway group, Northland Cranberries. The results are increased cranberry production and lower prices paid to farmers.
(Updated December 1, 1999)
Traditional Burial Business Goes Up in Flames
Full Summary 
The traditional funeral industry is suffering from a stable death rate, regulations, and the growth of competition from vendors of cut-price caskets and from alternatives such as cremation. The industry wants regulations to apply to nontraditional providers of death care services.
(Updated November 1, 1999)
Sky-High Airfares
Full Summary 
Northwest Airlines dominates its Minneapolis-St. Paul hub. Fares are 49 percent higher on the average in the U.S. The company argues that it is due to business travelers being a greater proportion of its passengers. Critics retort that fares are still too high.
(Updated June 1, 1999)
That's The Way Coke Bottlers Like It, Ah-Ha
Full Summary 
The biggest Coca-Cola bottler is facing an antitrust lawsuit claiming that its exclusive territory gives it too much control over prices and allows it to engage in price discrimination.
(Updated March 1, 1999)
FCC Tell Mexican Telephone Company to Reduce Rates
Full Summary 
The Federal Communications Commission has rejected the Telmex proposal for the prices charged to other carriers for completing phone calls between the US and Mexico. It has also criticized the surcharges levied by Telmex on each call. Consumers are said to be hurt, but Telmex denies that the public interest has been hurt.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Supermarkets' Super-marked-up Prices
Full Summary 
UK supermarkets are being criticized for their high prices. They have displaced smaller stores and become local islands of monopoly. Their size gives them advantages which deter other stores from competing. Nevertheless, consumers are willing to pay high prices in return for convenience.
(Updated November 11, 1998)
The Economics of Drug Dealing
Full Summary 
The illegal drug market is dominated by profitable and well-paid central gangs who act as wholesalers and award franchises. Individual gangs and their members -- the distributors -- make little money after accounting for costs. Gang wars reduce profitability further.
(Updated October 15, 1998)
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