Clearly Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and a few others are too big, too market expansive, too monopolistic. Apple less so, but the argument would still hold for them.
Those first three are market behemoths with the power and capital to quash any competition — primarily through acquisition. Don’t like that company competing with your searches, online shopping or online ad market? Buy them up.
That’s how monopolies become monopolies. Price fixing (like Apple and Uber) or price gouging, (like Amazon and Microsoft) which drives out competition (or shrinks the competition down so that they become easy acquisition targets), are all tactics to build monopolies.
The Big Three will get disassembled here in the next few years, no doubt about it. The DOJ, once the IBI* in Chief is out of the picture, will get back on track working for the U.S. Citizens.
But what about eliminating the problem created by such companies in the first place?
The below linked Senate Bill tries to do just that. But I wonder if there’s a simple rule that could be put in place that would kill the M&A practice like the evil corporate consolidation game that it is.
What if we use the market capitalization of any company as a filter to determine which companies can buy other companies?
Surely a $Trillion dollar company like Apple has so much cash they could buy nearly any other company they coveted. Apple Buys Uber and then becomes a massive captive distributed transportation monster. Obviously, we’d want to stop that.
So, at what size does a company become too big to allow it to swallow up competition (or expand sideways like Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods)?
Here’s a simple concept to limit monopolies:
A company that sits at the 90th percentile or higher of market capitalization as ranked on the S&P500 — is banned from ANY and ALL acquisitions.
Right now that would take the top 50 companies out of the possibility of buying other companies. Right now that’s a market cap of about $100B. As this is a percentage, it wouldn’t matter how big or small the actual market cap would be. A simple rule that would severely limit monopoly creation (It might be that the 80th percentile would be better, but you get the point.)
Here’s that senate bill:
And here’s the list of FINDINGS that were listed in that bill:
(1) competitive markets are critical to ensuring opportunity for all people in the United States;
(2) when companies compete, businesses offer the highest quality and choice of goods for the lowest possible prices to consumers and other businesses;
(3) competition fosters small business growth, reduces economic inequality, and spurs innovation;
(4) concentration that leads to market power and anticompetitive conduct makes it more difficult for people in the United States to start their own businesses, depresses wages, and increases economic inequality;
(5) undue market concentration also contributes to the consolidation of political power, undermining the health of democracy in the United States;
(6) the anticompetitive effects of market power created by concentration include higher prices, lower quality, significantly less choice, reduced innovation, foreclosure of competitors, increased entry barriers, and monopsony power;
(7) monopsony power— (monopsony means only a single BUYER is available)
(A) allows a firm to force suppliers of goods or services to cut their prices to unreasonably low levels, resulting in reduced business opportunities for suppliers and reduced availability and quality of products and services for consumers; and
(B) can result in workers being forced to accept unreasonably low wages;
(8) horizontal consolidation, vertical consolidation, and conglomerate mergers all have potential to cause anticompetitive harm;
(9) unprecedented consolidation is reducing competition and threatens to place the American dream further out of reach for many consumers in the United States;
(10) since 2008, firms in the United States have engaged in over $10,000,000,000,000 in mergers and acquisitions;
(11) between 2010 and 2015, there was a 50-percent increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice;
* Incoherent Bloviating Imbecile