#cfa-level-1 #microeconomics #reading-16-the-firm-and-market-structures #study-session-4

The purpose of this reading is to build an understanding of the importance of market structure. As different market structures result in different sets of choices facing a firm’s decision makers, an understanding of market structure is a powerful tool in analyzing issues such as a firm’s pricing of its products and, more broadly, its potential to increase profitability. In the long run, a firm’s profitability will be determined by the forces associated with the market structure within which it operates. In a highly competitive market, long-run profits will be driven down by the forces of competition. In less competitive markets, large profits are possible even in the long run; in the short run, any outcome is possible. Therefore, understanding the forces behind the market structure will aid the financial analyst in determining firms’ short- and long-term prospects.

Section 2 introduces the analysis of market structures. The section addresses questions such as: What determines the degree of competition associated with each market structure? Given the degree of competition associated with each market structure, what decisions are left to the management team developing corporate strategy? How does a chosen pricing and output strategy evolve into specific decisions that affect the profitability of the firm? The answers to these questions are related to the forces of the market structure within which the firm operates.

Sections 3, 4, 5, and 6 analyze demand, supply, optimal price and output, and factors affecting long-run equilibrium for perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and pure monopoly, respectively.

Section 7 reviews techniques for identifying the various forms of market structure. For example, there are accepted measures of market concentration that are used by regulators of financial institutions to judge whether or not a planned merger or acquisition will harm the competitive nature of regional banking markets. Financial analysts should be able to identify the type of market structure a firm is operating within. Each different structure implies a different long-run sustainability of profits. A summary and practice problems conclude the reading.


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