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jerryking : citizens_united   2

Why the US economy isn’t as competitive or free as you think
November 14, 2019 | Financial Times | by Martin Wolf.

The Great Reversal: How America Gave up on Free Markets, by Thomas Philippon, Belknap Press RRP$29.95, 368 pages

It began with a simple question: “Why on earth are US cell phone plans so expensive?” In pursuit of the answer, Thomas Philippon embarked on a detailed empirical analysis of how business actually operates in today’s America and finished up by overturning much of what almost everybody takes as read about the world’s biggest economy.

Over the past two decades, competition and competition policy have atrophied, with dire consequences......America is no longer the home of the free-market economy, competition is not more fierce there than in Europe, its regulators are not more proactive and its new crop of superstar companies not radically different from their predecessors.

Philippon's argument:
(1) US markets have become less competitive: concentration is high in many industries, leaders are entrenched, and their profit rates are excessive.
(2) this lack of competition has hurt US consumers and workers: it has led to higher prices, lower investment and lower productivity growth.
(3) contrary to common wisdom, the main explanation is political, not technological: Philippon traces the decrease in competition to increasing barriers to entry and weak antitrust enforcement, sustained by heavy lobbying and campaign contributions.”....... the US economy has seen a significant reduction in competition and a corresponding rise in monopoly and oligopoly.

What should the US want? The answers, suggests Philippon, are: free entry; regulators prepared to make mistakes when acting against monopoly; and protection of transparency, privacy and data ownership by customers. The great obstacle to action in the US is the pervasive role of money in politics. The results are the twin evils of oligopoly and oligarchy. Donald Trump is in so many ways a product of the defective capitalism described in The Great Reversal. What the US needs, instead, is another Teddy Roosevelt and his energetic trust-busting. Is that still imaginable? All believers in the virtues of competitive capitalism must hope so.
antitrust  barriers_to_entry  books  book_reviews  campaign_contributions  Citizens_United  competitiveness_of_nations  crony_capitalism  dark_money  economics  economists  entrenched_interests  EU  FAANG  free_markets  French  gun_laws  healthcare  lobbying  market_concentration  monopolies  monopsony  oligopolies  oligarchs  regulators  Theodore_Roosevelt  uncompetitive 
november 2019 by jerryking
Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert Mercer Emerges as a Generous Backer of Cruz - NYTimes.com
APRIL 10, 2015 | NYT| By ERIC LICHTBLAU and ALEXANDRA STEVENSON.

Mr. Mercer, a reclusive Long Islander who started at I.B.M. and made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market, emerged this week as a key early bankroller of Mr. Cruz’s surprisingly fast campaign start.

...Mr. Mercer does not have the name recognition of fellow Republican financiers like the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, but he has spent more than $15 million since 2012 in support of conservative political campaigns and causes, donating to a number of candidates who had never even met him. ....Robert Mercer is discussed in “More Money Than God,” a book about the hedge fund industry by Sebastian Mallaby....Before joining Renaissance Technologies, Mr. Mercer, 68, worked at I.B.M.’s research center, where he specialized in computerized translation of languages.....When James H. Simons, the billionaire founder of the Renaissance hedge fund, hired Mr. Mercer in 1993, the company was more university campus than Wall Street firm. Mr. Simons, a mathematician and former code-breaker for the National Security Agency, brought in astronomers and physicists to analyze reams of data, using computer programs to search for patterns that could be used to inform trading decisions. Mr. Simons has been a major political backer of Democrats, donating $8.3 million in 2014.
hedge_funds  moguls  high_net_worth  Robert_Mercer  Wall_Street  Ted_Cruz  Renaissance_Technologies  books  Citizens_United  James_Simons  PACs 
april 2015 by jerryking

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