I keep getting told that completely unregulated, completely free markets can't work because monopolies will form due to someone having a competitive advantage.
I don't believe this, because I've watched actual multi-national corporations go about their business. An acquired business is quite often kept running as an independent unit and if it doesn't make enough money to justify keeping it, it will very often be spun off into a separate business that can be sold off. In the worst case, it can be closed down.
Mergers have another face to their coin.
But it seems to me that, as ever, the real issue is how words are defined. If you watch even a bit of this*, you will quickly see how genuine (and universal) understanding of the crucial economic concept of competition was completely rewritten for the benefit of technocrats and bureaucrats. You can also see how completely unnatural the current understanding of what competition is and how a competitive market in the real world actually works.
Intuitively, I've always looked at competition in the Austrian way, the pre-technocratic way. It is, of course, no surprise that socialists and statists argue about the impossibility of a textbook "free market". They are quite correct, that kind of free market doesn't exist and it is, in any event, of no real benefit to the consumer. Who wants to buy identical cars at identical prices which just have a different badge on them?
Mercedes have a monopoly on making Mercedes. They don't have a monopoly on making cars. But if they come up with a new innovation, within a couple of years, that innovation would be found on the lowliest Nissan or Daewoo.
The benefit of a free and unregulated market is genuine competition for your money: differentiating on price, on features, on service, on marketing. The fact that someone can enter the market easily and compete with you is genuinely more likely to keep you honest than any number of government-decreed boxes to tick.
If you have a natural monopoly and you abuse that, someone will be annoyed enough to take you on. If you have a government-decreed monopoly, people cannot take you on. Anybody moved to a new house? Seen what a complete pain in the cunt it is to get a new phone line installed? Reason? Legally, only BT can fit your home with a landline.
Historically, even natural monopoly is kept honest by the threat of competition. The only real burden to consumers is created by monopoly by fiat. That is, monopolies created by regulation.
*I was going to say you don't need to watch the whole video. But I did anyway. It's quite good.