Home Economics America’s uncompetitive markets harm its economy

America’s uncompetitive markets harm its economy


“THE best of all monopoly profits is a quiet life,” wrote Sir John Hicks, a British economist. Without competitors breathing down their necks, monopolists find it easy to make large profits: just ask the 46m American households served by only one fast-broadband provider, who pay high prices for poor service. As a result, trustbusting is one of those rare causes that can unite raging populists with sober academics. So the wonks may well have agreed with the sentiment, if not the fine detail, when Senate Democrats unveiled a fresh pledge on July 24th to make America competitive again as part of their economic agenda. “This economy is rigged,” insisted Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. It is not quite that bad. But more than three-quarters of industries are more concentrated than they were two decades ago, and the economy is also seeing less turnover of firms (see charts).

It is easy enough for consumers to see the consequences when monopolists entrench themselves in one…Continue reading

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