A question of Cartels

Dictionary.com gives the definition of the word cartel as follows:

1. an international syndicate, combine, or trust formed especially to regulate prices and output in some field of business.

2. a coalition of political or special-interest groups having a common cause, as to encourage the passage of a certain law.

3. a written agreement between belligerents, especially for the exchange of prisoners.

4.a written challenge to a duel.

I think in our considerations we can safely ignore the latter two as being not especially relevant! So we are left with:

1. an international syndicate, combine, or trust formed especially to regulate prices and output in some field of business.

2. a coalition of political or special-interest groups having a common cause, as to encourage the passage of a certain law.

What is interesting is that we all recognise cartels as being fundamentally bad news. We know that they undermine legitimate competition and thus are unfair to the consumer. Most countries have anti-trust laws specifically to deal with and break up cartels. All well and good.

…and yet…

Cartels are at their very base an example of cooperation. When a group of businesses and political leaders come together to regulate CO2 output, should we invoke the anti-trust laws? When a group of corporations come together under the banner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)… is that a cartel?

Can there be such a thing as a good cartel? Can we, the people, legitimise these cooperative efforts for good?

The purpose of this piece is not to answer those questions but to ask them of you, the reader.  Please add your comments below and let’s get a discussion going here.

Thanks

p.s. Yes I am playing devils advocate and being deliberately contentious (in case you were wondering)! 😉

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3 thoughts on “A question of Cartels

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