Is Market Power Destructive? An Undergraduate Assignment Using Adam Smith's Criticisms of Monopolies

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This paper describes an assignment where students evaluate a current industry using Adam Smith's arguments against monopoly power. Using Smith's arguments, students write a paper describing whether they believe a current industry, such as the US cellular phone carrier industry, suffers from the problems Smith described in The Wealth of Nations. This assignment invites students to take ownership over a current issue while developing a deep understanding of monopolies. By using Smith's criticisms of monopolies, students will also see that economic 'truths' are complicated, even in the classic 'laissez-faire' text.