Antitrust laws are some of the most onerous and costly to the economy, yet most widely supported through their not being well understood. A vast majority of Americans consider monopolies both possible and undesirable, and government edicts are the solution that sounds reasonable to many. 

The problem is, this is completely false.  

Competitors, by the nature, want 'in" and monopolists, by their nature, want to restrict new entrants. There are two ways to restrict entrants in the long run - being better than them and having government impose restrictions on entrance to the market (such as in the market for healthcare, where doctors groups here in Texas have long, and successfully, limited the number of new doctors attending college each year, leading to a severe shortage but also inflated doctor's wages - and I say this objectively as my better half is one of them).

So if we take government (licensing, regulations, capital requirements, outright bans on new entrants) out the equation, that leaves monopolists with only one tool with which to fight off would-be competitors - being better than them. 

So what does "better" mean and aren't there other ways to restrict competition, such as having outsized market power or controlling distribution? The short answer is no, not in the long run. Google is a great example of a company that is simply better than all others at what it does, and in effect has a monopolistic level of market share as a result. But that isn't a bad thing - everyone benefits from their fight to remain the best, as those who use Google well know - that's why they do it. 

Perhaps the best example of the pointlessness of anti-trust is an international one - OPEC. OPEC, as you probably know, is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and consists of a group of nations in the middle-east and North Africa with significant oil reserves and, in most cases, a heavy reliance on oil revenues for government coffers and economic stability.  OPEC has controlled prices for 30+ years by meeting periodically to determine how much to produce; in effect, oil being a commodity, and OPEC controlling a large enough share of that commodity, they controlled prices by reducing supply (and, in many cases, simply by indicating to the market that they MIGHT reduce supply).  

Consider the market power of their (temporary) monopoly when, in 1973, they embargoed U.S oil imports in response to U.S support for Israel and, in effect, led to a domestic oil supply crisis. Think lines at the gas station stretching miles...

Government, however, did not break up OPEC's monopoly with some bureaucratic anti-trust ruling at an international court. Competitors, by their nature, wanted "in" and monopolists were trying to keep them out. New entrants, therefore, must be fundamentally better. And along came U.S shale or 'fracking'. 

Antitrust laws are some of the most onerous and costly to the economy, yet most widely supported through their not being well understood. A vast majority of Americans consider monopolies both possible and undesirable, and government edicts are the solution that sounds reasonable to many. 

The problem is, this is completely false.  

Competitors, by the nature, want 'in" and monopolists, by their nature, want to restrict new entrants. There are two ways to restrict entrants in the long run - being better than them and having government impose restrictions on entrance to the market (such as in the market for healthcare, where doctors groups here in Texas have long, and successfully, limited the number of new doctors attending college each year, leading to a severe shortage but also inflated doctor's wages - and I say this objectively as my better half is one of them).

So if we take government (licensing, regulations, capital requirements, outright bans on new entrants) out the equation, that leaves monopolists with only one tool with which to fight off would-be competitors - being better than them. 

So what does "better" mean and aren't there other ways to restrict competition, such as having outsized market power or controlling distribution? The short answer is no, not in the long run. Google is a great example of a company that is simply better than all others at what it does, and in effect has a monopolistic level of market share as a result. But that isn't a bad thing - everyone benefits from their fight to remain the best, as those who use Google well know - that's why they do it. 

Perhaps the best example of the pointlessness of anti-trust is an international one - OPEC. OPEC, as you probably know, is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and consists of a group of nations in the middle-east and North Africa with significant oil reserves and, in most cases, a heavy reliance on oil revenues for government coffers and economic stability.  OPEC has controlled prices for 30+ years by meeting periodically to determine how much to produce; in effect, oil being a commodity, and OPEC controlling a large enough share of that commodity, they controlled prices by reducing supply (and, in many cases, simply by indicating to the market that they MIGHT reduce supply).  

Consider the vast market power of their (temporary) monopoly when, in 1973, they embargoed U.S oil imports in response to U.S support for Israel and, in effect, led to a domestic oil supply crisis. Think lines at the gas station stretching miles...

Government, however, did not break up OPEC's monopoly with some bureaucratic anti-trust ruling at an international court. As I stated at the outset, competitors by their nature want "in" and monopolists by their nature want to restrict them. Therefore, new entrants must compete by being fundamentally better. 

  • "Horizontal Drilling is the real marvel of engineering and scientific innovation.  While impressive in its own right, the main innovations in "Fracking" in recent years have been beefing up the generating horsepower to accommodate horizontal wells rather than vertical ones, and refining of the fluids used to conserve water and create better, longer lasting fractures in the target formation."
  • "...the real marvel is the innovation that has take place in the realm of Horizontal Drilling.  Think about what this advancement has meant just in terms of access to the resources:  When drilling into a hydrocarbon bearing formation 100 feet thick, vertical drilling would allow an operator to contact 100 feet of rock, which would limit your potential recovery to whatever oil or gas would flow into that length of pipe.
  • Horizontal Drilling now allows these same operators to drill and set pipe for a mile or more horizontally through this same rock formation.  You are now contacting and "Fracking" 5,200 feet of rock rather than 100 feet, which multiplies expected well recovery rates many times over.  The technology employed is so advanced and exacting that drillers today can hit a target at the end of a drill string that is 10,000 feet vertical with a mile long horizontal section that is no more than a few inches in diameter.  Drillers also use sensors to detect particularly promising rock intervals within the formation, and are able to move the drill string up or down, left or right as they drill through the horizontal section to target those intervals.
  • These extraordinary technological achievements enable operators to maximize returns from each well, which in turn means higher royalty payments to mineral owners, and higher tax revenues for local and state taxing authorities.
  • Advanced horizontal drilling technology also produces positive results for the environment.  A single horizontal well can replace the need to drill a dozen or even more vertical wells to access a similar level of resource.  For the environment this means far less air emissions, far less water usage and disposal needs, and far less land impacted to produce a similar amount of oil and natural gas.
  • Add to all of that the fact that the industry's ability to access natural gas in shale formations, and the supply abundance that has produced, has enabled the conversion of dozens of older coal-fired power plants to cleaner-buring natural gas.  That has led directly to the lowering of US greenhouse gas emissions to levels not seen since the early '90s, a result not matched by any other industrialized nation."

Fracking technology was a market response to a "monopoly", and it eliminated it as such.

Here are some recent headlines:

Crude Oil Prices Extend Drop as OPEC Struggles with Reducing Glut

It's the final showdown: OPEC struggles as the US ramps up oil ..

Why OPEC is struggling for oil supremacy - The Australian