Bank customers pay for oligopoly

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review
Originally published in The Australian Financial Review on October 30, 2012

Neoclassical economics has a clear definition of a competitive market, but it has been so debased by Australian politicians and business leaders that it now borders on meaningless. According to mainstream textbooks, a competitive market is one in which there are lots of buyers and sellers, none of whom have any market power. Buyers are well informed, they shop around on price, and suppliers make only enough profit to cover their costs. The Australian Bankers Association must be reading some different textbooks. According to a press release by the ABA’s Steven Munchenberg, the banking industry is “fiercely competitive”, despite the fact that of the 100 banks, credit unions and building societies trading in Australia, the big four banks have 84 per cent of home lending. Neoclassical textbooks describe such a market as an oligopoly.

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