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I am looking for some words for "cartel" in economics. I did a search and found a good word is "corporate consolidation" from this newspaper. I am wondering if there is any other formal word that can be used in research studies?

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    $\begingroup$ Corporate consolidation is not a synonym for cartel. A cartel coordinates [on some aspect of the business] without establishing joint ownership, there may not be any legal agreement at all. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Jul 20, 2021 at 4:40

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I don't think an exact synonym exists. There are words that describe a type of cartel.

You could use trust or combine, if the cartel is legal and known.

You could use syndicate in case of illicit cartels.


When writing a technical paper, it is not bad form to repeat the same technical word over and over again, it avoids confusion.


When looking at synonyms of a word, frequently there are some nuanced differences between them. As a non-native speaker of English it can be years before I learn of the nuances. To be fair, the same is true for words that I rarely hear/use in my native tongue.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 Using the same word when talking about the same thing avoids confusion. There is nothing wrong with using cartel. You can also talk about "collusion" and "colluding firms." $\endgroup$
    – Bayesian
    Jul 20, 2021 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ In some cases, "oligopoly" fits the bill. This is when a small number of larger firms dominate a market and behave as if they were colluding, although there is no concrete proof (or nobody went looking for it). $\endgroup$
    – BrsG
    Jul 20, 2021 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ @BrsG I disagree with this. Yes, most cartels were/are oligopolies, but not all oligopolies are cartels. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Jul 20, 2021 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Giskard: yes, I agree. Just though I should mention this, because it would be more precise to refer to "oligopoly" if the cartel is actually is, more specifically, an oligopoly. $\endgroup$
    – BrsG
    Jul 20, 2021 at 11:10
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Some sources, eg here, regard "price ring" as synonymous with cartel. On the other hand, eg here, a price ring has also been regarded as one kind of cartel that focuses directly on price coordination, as opposed to one which focuses on coordinated output restrictions or other measures as less direct means to increase prices and profits.

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