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Eichenwald, Kurt: The Informant

            It is the structure of a market that leads to possibilities of an anticompetitive nature. Only in a market where practices such as tacit collusion or cartelization are helpful and necessary, will it be unfeasible for formation and maintenance of such actions as are opposed in the antitrust laws. In the case of the lysine market, a cartel was formed in order to fix prices. The condition and structure of the lysine market made it very feasible to form such a cartel with relatively little effort. However, the market conditions were also such, that they would not allow for this type of formal price-setting simply because it was not necessary to either the producer or consumer; It was a scheme to make more profits quickly. The formation of a cartel under these market characteristics, would have enabled the cartel to gain overwhelming market power, and would not fail in the same sense as Chicago economists believe all cartels will eventually destroy themselves, or succumb to other market forces. The inherent structure of the market is the guiding force behind all of the lysine producers" decisions as well as the government's decision to intervene with the enforcement of antitrust lawsuits. It is necessary to now discuss the market structure of the lysine industry to determine what forces allowed for the easy formation of a cartel, and why it was unnecessary.
             The type of product within any market is of utmost importance in the firms" ability to compete and choose courses of action. Lysine is a highly standardized product. There is little or no differentiation in lysine grown in different plants on opposite sides of the world. If lysine was a product that carried certain advantages or disadvantages in its effectiveness, then more competition would have arisen. Lysine is an amino acid with a specific chemical formula designed to speed the development of lean muscle tissue. It is manufactured through bacterial fermentation, by specific "bugs" that break down dextrose from corn and soy crops into lysine.

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