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For example, the most straightforward cases of widely accepted centrally controlled regulation on a national basis would be the nuclear power generation and nuclear fuel supply industries. Where every country that has such activities implement stringent regulation for obvious reasons. Furthermore, none of these countries, that I know, of allow oversight authority to devolve to any sub national jurisdiction. And there is a worldwide consensus that such a regime is necessary and must be maintained indefinitely due to non-proliferation concerns.

A similar situation exists in the space launch industry, due to the binding Outer Space Treaty, ratified by most countries in the world, that mandates the government of the country hosting the launchpad to bear all risk in case of an accident involving other country(s) with anything that originated from the launching country. And the Treaty prohibits said governments from delegating the risk to any other party. Effectively requiring centralized national control of space launch.

Are there are any other industries where such a situation exists? Or that is widely agreed upon to be the necessary structure?

Plausible candidates in my mind include:

Railroads, Airspace monitoring and control, Armaments production

The rationale could be due to efficiency, practicality, etc., or some combination thereof.

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    $\begingroup$ By wide agreement you mean wide agreement of public or wide agreement of politicians or wide agreement of economic experts working on market regulations? These groups often have different ‘wide agreement’ on what’s optimal $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @1muflon1 Wide agreement among economic experts working on market regulation. $\endgroup$
    – M. Y. Zuo
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 23:16

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I would say first-best answer is public utilities (power, water, sanitation).
They have extreme economies of scale and are generally "natural monopolies". Telecommunication has similar issues, you may notice in the US, they have been broken up several times. Internet access is the same.

Transportation also is heavily regulated: Road, rail, maritime transport, and air. This is because the roads, ports, etc. have incredibly high start-up costs, and they would never naturally compete with one another (there is almost no way two, competing, for-profit roadways would travel with the same origin & destination).

This is a good time to point out that the Transportation and Public Utilities Group works specifically in these areas and the unique problems that show up in these industries.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer, I think electricity and telecoms are example, but public water and sanitation somewhat less so as they are usually managed at the subnational level so they are more subject to economic shocks. As subnational units cannot set an independent monetary policy by definition, etc., and could theoretically offer competing services in the border areas between jurisdictions. Perhaps even engage in a race to the bottom such that effectively all regulations are removed in practice. Is there widespread agreement among economists that they should be centrally regulated? $\endgroup$
    – M. Y. Zuo
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ It's an exaggeration to suggest that the power (electricity) industry as a whole is a natural monopoly. The natural monopoly is only the network (grid) which transmits electricity from generators to consumers. Competition at both ends, ie between generators, and between retailers, is perfectly feasible (we have both in the UK). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 11:45

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