Government-granted monopoly

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In economics, a government-granted monopoly (also called a "de jure monopoly") is a form of coercive monopoly by which a government grants exclusive privilege to a private individual or firm to be the sole provider of a good or service; potential competitors are excluded from the market by law, regulation, or other mechanisms of government enforcement. As a form of coercive monopoly, government-granted monopoly is contrasted with a non-coercive monopoly or an efficiency monopoly, where there is no competition but it is not forcibly excluded. Amongst forms of coercive monopoly it is distinguished from government monopoly or state monopoly (in which government agencies hold the legally-enforced monopoly rather than private individuals or firms) and from government-sponsored cartels (in which the government forces several independent producers to partially coordinate their decisions through a centralized organization). Advocates for government-granted monopolies often claim that they ensure a degree of public control over essential industries, without having those industries actually run by the state. Opponents often criticize them as political favors to corporations. Government-granted monopolies may be opposed by those who would prefer free markets as well as by those who would prefer to replace private corporations with public ownership.

Under mercantilist economic systems, European governments with colonial interests often granted large and extremely lucrative monopolies to companies trading in particular regions, such as the Dutch East India Company. Today, government-granted monopolies may be found in public utility services such as public roads, mail, water supply, and electric power, as well as certain specialized and highly-regulated fields such as education and gambling. In many countries lucrative natural resources industries, especially the petroleum industry, are controlled by government-granted monopolies. Franchises granted by governments to operate public transit through public roads are another example.

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