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Regulatory Developments in the U.S. : History and Philosophy

By Thompson, Louis S.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000061629
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.8 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Regulatory Developments in the U.S. : History and Philosophy  
Author: Thompson, Louis S.
Language: English
Subject: Economics, Finance & business, World Bank.
Collections: Economics Publications Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: The World Bank


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Thompson, L. S. (n.d.). Regulatory Developments in the U.S. : History and Philosophy. Retrieved from


The first nationwide regulation of transportation in the U.S. was intervention in railways: interestingly, it came about because of a belief that there was too much competition. In the 1830 to 1880 period, railways had been over-built in many areas of the country -- especially the Northeast -- mainly because of financial speculation in the creation of railway companies. The perceived high fixed cost, low variable cost structure of railways tended to generate severe rate cutting and tariff instability whenever railways directly competed for traffic. The railways did not favor this sort of competition, for obvious reasons: not so obvious is the fact that many of the major shippers did not like it either because, in a period of monopolies or monopsonies by the producer/shipper companies, the objective of many producers was not to minimize the costs of transportation but, instead, to factor uncontrollable competitive factors, including transport charges, out of the competitive equation. Both shipper and railway wanted rail rates to be public, and they wanted them to be averaged over the large and small shippers. Another major thrust was locational (regional) interests--farmers who wanted rates averaged and stabilized so that more distant markets would see the same transport costs as the more fortunate, closer farms, and so that ports could be equalized. To all of these shippers, controlling competitive instability was often just as important as equalization.


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