Trudi Makhaya Columnist

The problem of monopoly has been with us for as long as human beings have traded goods and services. The good that has come out of modern economies — competition, free markets, innovation — is stalked by the ever-present threat of domination and stagnation. Adam Smith, he of the "invisible hand", railed against monopoly. "The price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest which can be got", he wrote. But the price that emerges from free competition, what he called the natural price, "is the lowest which can be taken, not upon every occasion, indeed, but for any considerable time together." The monopoly price, he said, is squeezed out of consumers, whereas the competitive price is the lowest that a seller can take and remain a viable business. Monopoly, he said, is a great enemy of good management. And like competition regulators, he was leery of any gathering of people of the same trade, which was likely to end in a conspiracy to raise prices.There is a strong feeling that SA ...

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