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Economic Definition of cartel. Defined.

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Term cartel Definition: A formal agreement between businesses in the same industry, usually on an international scale, to get market control, raise the market price, and otherwise act like a monopoly. A cartel tends to be unstable because the artificially high prices it sets gives each member of the cartel an incentive to "cheat" with a slightly lower price. When only one member of the cartel lowers the price, it can make oodles of profit by taking customers away from the other members. If they all cheat, the cartel falls apart. While cartels damage efficiency, they're power is often short-lived because of this cheating. Like collusion and other techniques of market control, cartels are illegal in the United States.


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