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Old 07-18-2016, 09:50 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 10,647
Originally Posted by oara View Post
It surprises me when people say "conspiracy theory" as if conspiracies don't happen, as if invoking the phrase makes the opponent wrong.
"Conspiracy theory" as a casual descriptor identifies a category of organizations for which evidence is nonexistent, or which require such massive, unfailing secrecy or cooperation as to be extremely unlikely.

In the case of anti-competitive business conspiracies, there are two factors that make them extremely unlikely, or short-lived:

-if an anti-competitive conspiracy is legal, it is unstable. All it takes is one maverick upstart to disregard the conspiracy and set a price (or sell a product) that undercuts them all. The Phoebus cartel lasted only nine years before a competitor did exactly that. And these days, there are even more billionaire venture capitalists who would be happy to fund a startup that undercuts the entire extant long-life light bulb market.

-if an anti-competitive conspiracy is illegal, all it takes is one single person who fears the law and decides to spill the beans. This was the undoing of the Indiana concrete price-fixing conspiracy I linked to upthread.

Bottom line is that if someone posits an anti-competitive business conspiracy, they may be right - but they won't be right for long.