Can cartels benefit the economy?

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Can cartels benefit the economy?

Yes, if they are export-oriented. Cartels expropriate consumer surplus and turn it into producer surplus. If a cartel is export-oriented, it expropriates FOREIGN consumer surplus and turns it into DOMESTIC producer surplus. Spillover benefits of this expropriation to the domestic economy can be substantial. Consider OPEC, for example. Many Gulf countries have built very decent infrastructure out of oil revenues; Nigeria procures about half of its rice consumption abroad.

Unintended beneficiaries of OPEC include Russia and Norway (and, to a lesser extent, Britain and the Netherlands), which are not OPEC members, but still benefit from higher oil prices…

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