There are legal monopolies in almost every country, but their numbers are declining. For several decades the political climate has run against legal monopolies, as they were perceived as being a combination of the worst traits of corporations and governments. The first signs of this trend was the breakup of Ma Bell in the 1980s, and many broadcasting monopolies such as England's BBC have been reduced in stature to simple corporations.

One of the few legal monopolies that exists in every country is the mail. Mail corporations tend to be organized as semi-independent of the government and are expected to be self-sufficient. Competition is sharply limited or non-existent for parcel and letter services. Because of the declining need for letters, many of those mail corporations have branched into other business lines, such as bank services.

Making and selling alcohol is also a common legal monopoly, as one must possess a government license to do either. Likewise, despite the prohibition of dangerous drugs such as heroin, there are legal monopolies that control producing and distributing them for legitimate scientific purposes; legalized marijuana in the United States currently falls somewhere in between those two. Anything to do with guns is also sharply restricted to just a few entities in most countries as well.

A strange outlier in the U.S. is the legal monopoly that sports corporations such as the NFL and MLB enjoy. They are legally protected from antitrust lawsuits and have enjoyed such protection since the 1920s, though it has not been tested since the 1970s. In other countries, sports corporations have the same de facto protection, particularly if they are regarded as international; FIFA and the Olympics are the prime examples.

  1. How does a monopoly contribute to market failure?

    Read a simple overview of the theory of market monopoly, where it originated and some contemporary challenges to the classical ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are Common Examples of Monopolistic Markets?

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  3. What's the difference between a monopoly and a monopsony?

    A monopoly exists when a single organization is the sole supplier of a commodity, whereas a monopsony controls the market ... Read Answer >>
  4. What is a utility stock?

    Investing in difficult economic conditions requires knowledge of different stock classes. Utility stocks are one vehicle ... Read Answer >>
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  1. Legal Monopoly

    A legal monopoly is a company that is operating as a monopoly ...
  2. Natural Monopoly

    A natural monopoly is the domination of an industry or sector ...
  3. Monopoly

    A monopoly is a situation in which one corporation, firm or entity ...
  4. Monopolist

    A monopolist is an individual, group or company that controls ...
  5. Discriminating Monopoly

    A discriminating monopoly is a market-dominating company that ...
  6. Bilateral Monopoly

    A bilateral monopoly exists when a market consists of one buyer ...
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