SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – You may have seen more headlines recently regarding the topic of monopolies, which Investopedia defines as when a company and its product offerings dominate a particular sector or industry. The term is also often used to describe an entity that has total or near-total control of a market. The pandemic further pushed the gap for small businesses, who are unable to compete with corporate giants.
According to AP Business Writer Marcy Gordon, experts and lawmakers reported the four biggest airlines control about 65 percent of U.S. passenger traffic, five giant healthcare insurers control an estimated 45 percent of the market, pharmaceuticals are dominated by three major companies, the top four banks control about 44 percent of the market, the so-called Big Five book publishers control some 80 percent of the U.S. book market, and Google alone accounts for about 90 percent of web searches worldwide. Four companies are estimated to control 80 percent of U.S. meat-packing and the top four brewers and importers control about 76 percent of the U.S. beer market.
Congress, federal regulators, and states had already been putting Big Tech companies under intense scrutiny for nearly two years and even suing some for antitrust. Now with Democrats in the majority in Congress and President Joe Biden signing an executive order targeting tech, mergers, and monopolies, the focus is widening to the rest of corporate America.
Republicans express concern over the runaway concentration of corporate power and stress their belief in competition to keep the economy vibrant. But some are saying, let’s not punish bigness for its own sake; better to look at each case individually. They say big companies can bring efficiencies of scale, reduce prices and create jobs.
Matt Stoller, research director of the American Economic Liberties Project and author of “Goliath: the 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy” joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen to discuss businesses of the 1900s, what monopolies did to workers in the steel or railroad industry during that era, how much control monopolies had over day-to-day life, and Mariner Eccles’ contributions.
In part two of the discussion with Stoller, he talked about the current landscape, what economic commerce looks like now, what the government’s reaction was to economic crises (savings/loan scandals in the 80s, housing market crash in early 2000s) due to return to concentrated power, his thoughts on recent antitrust lawsuits against Big Tech, whether there’s an appetite for change now, what concerns him the most, and what he has the most hope for in the future.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined the discussion to share his thoughts about whether the state’s opioid crisis is a result of monopolistic practices of the pharmaceutical industry, the lawsuit he’s spearheading against Google, the issues and concerns stated in the case, and how he’s thinking about other monopolistic companies — both inside and outside of tech.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Stoller and Reyes, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.