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EconDebates Online

EconDebates Online keeps you informed on today's most crucial economics policy debates. Each EconDebate, created by John Kane (SUNY-Oswego), provides a primer on the issues and links to background information and current, in-depth commentaries from experts around the world. Review the brief introductions and, for EconDebates of interest, select the full debate.

Oligopoly

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Introduction 

Should the antitrust exemption for baseball be eliminated?

Full Debate

Proponents of the antitrust exemption argue that the antitrust exemption allows professional baseball to maintain a high quality of play by restricting the number of teams allowed to compete in the major leagues. They often suggest that baseball's monopoly power is significantly limited by competition for fans with other professional sports and other forms of entertainment. This competition, it is suggested, helps keep prices relatively low. The debate on the antitrust exemption for baseball is now nearly 80 years old. It is likely to continue to be a source of contention for some time to come.

Has Deregulation Caused the Energy Shortage in California?

Full Debate

  California began experiencing a serious energy shortage in the summer of 2000. Power blackouts became relatively frequent in many areas of the state. These problems appeared to have begun with the deregulation of the electrical power industry in California. Are these problems the result of deregulation? Or are they the result of regulations that result in inefficient outcomes? This question is of particular importance since many other states are in the process of following California's path to deregulation.

Should Medicare Provide Prescription Drug Coverage?

Full Debate

Recent advances in medical care have resulted in the development of many new pharmaceutical therapies for a variety of health conditions. Many of these newly introduced drug therapies, though, are relatively expensive due to the high costs associated with developing and testing these drugs. Medicare, however, does not currently provide prescription drug coverage. Instead, retired individuals either have no prescription drug coverage, or purchase relatively expensive "Medigap" insurance coverage to cover the medical expenses not covered by Medicare.
Should the Strategic Petroleum Reserve be used to Reduce Fluctuations in Oil Prices?

Full Debate

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was created as a result of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in December 1975 in response to the 1973-74 oil embargo. This Act allowed the U.S. to store up to 1 billion barrels of petroleum in salt caverns located near the Gulf of Mexico. Oil has been added to these salt caverns from June 1977 to the present. The SPR now holds over 500 million barrels of crude oil.
Should Napster and similar MP3 distribution mechanisms be banned?

Full Debate

For decades, individuals have made tape recordings of live musical performances or musical performances sold on records, tapes, or CDs. Taped copies, however, were of a lower quality than the original. The introduction of the MP3 recording format, however, made it possible to encode and compress musical recordings into a compact file that can be played back at near-CD quality. These files are small enough that they can be quickly downloaded from the internet, even by those using modem connections. The development of MP3 players that can store hundreds of songs has also encouraged the widespread use of this storage format.

Does globalization require a change in antitrust policy?

Full Debate

In the early years of U.S. antitrust enforcement, most antitrust cases involved domestic firms that sold most of their goods in the domestic economy. Lower transportation costs, information costs, and the development of international and regional free trade agreements have resulted in a dramatic expansion in international trade in recent years. In an increasingly global economy, the task of antitrust enforcement becomes more complex.

Is there a need for health-care reform?

Full Debate

Health-care reform was one of the major issues in the 1992 U.S. Presidential campaign. While no major reform bill was passed during Bill Clinton's first term in office, health-care reform has remained a major topic of congressional debate.

Is Micrsoft a Monopoly?

Full Debate

In 1997, Microsoft operating systems accounted for 93% of all new sales of computer operating systems. Microsoft's Windows operating system has become the de facto standard for home and business computer applications. It is fairly clear that Microsoft is the dominant firm in the market for computer operating systems. The question in the current Microsoft antitrust case is whether or not the computer firm has used its market dominance to restrain trade in violation of federal antitrust statutes.

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