In this op-ed for Motherboard, we look at how Amazon is trying to control the underlying infrastructure of our economy. We also examine how buying Whole Foods would expand Amazon’s control of commerce — and why regulators should block it. Continue reading
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About Stacy Mitchell
Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise. She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also produces a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin. Connect with her on twitter and catch her TEDx Talk: Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy. More
If “monopoly” sounds like a word from another era, that’s because, until recently, it was. The term was reliably used through the middle of the 20th century in newspaper headlines and State of the Union addresses alike, but starting in the 1970s, it began to retreat from public consciousness. The story of why carries lessons for how an economic policy’s effectiveness can be its own undoing — and about how people are thinking about corporate power today. Because monopoly is back.
In this piece for The Atlantic, ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell looks at the history of the anti-monopoly movement in the U.S., and how today, as economic concentration soars, monopoly could again be just the word we need. Continue reading
The United States is much less a nation of entrepreneurs than it was a generation ago. This report suggests that the decline of small businesses is owed, at least in part, to anticompetitive behavior by large, dominant corporations. Drawing on examples in pharmacy, banking, telecommunications, and retail, it finds that big companies routinely use their size and their economic and political power to undermine their smaller rivals and exclude them from markets. This report presents three compelling reasons to bring a commitment to fair and open markets for small businesses back into antitrust enforcement and public policy, and concludes by outlining several specific steps to revive competition and small business. Continue reading
For the first time in 28 years, the Democratic Party platform calls for vigorous, stepped-up enforcement of our anti-monopoly laws. This remarkable shift in policy was made possible in part by the Bernie Sanders movement, but it’s also the product of years of advocacy by scholars and activists who believe that high levels of concentration in banking, retail, agribusiness and other sectors are ravaging our economy and democracy. Continue reading
All great retail empires eventually fall. A&P did. So did Montgomery Ward. But Walmart’s recent announcement that it would close 269 stores may not be an initial stumble on a path toward demise so much as a move to abandon communities that it has decided simply aren’t worth the trouble. We look at both the bad and the good fallout from Walmart’s pullback, and how its closures are best explained as a side effect of its main strategy for dominating the economy: overbuilding regions to the point of not just destroying competition but cannibalizing its own sales, while communities bear the consequences. Continue reading
Amazon is on a building spree, and many local officials are eager to bring one of its giant fulfillment centers to their own backyard. But a new analysis from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) indicates that communities are losing more than they gain in these projects. Contact: Stacy Mitchell, 207-232-3681 Co-Director, Institute for Local Self-Reliance… Continue reading
Amazon is on a building spree, and many local officials are eager to bring one of its giant fulfillment centers to their own backyard. They are so eager, in fact, that some have resorted to offering the company lavish tax breaks and other public assistance. Between 2012 and 2014, Amazon picked up $431 million in local tax incentives to finance its warehouse expansion. Yet, as our analysis shows, Amazon fulfillment centers impose so many hidden costs on local economies that cities ought to reconsider welcoming them at all, much less greasing the way with public funds. Continue reading
In North Dakota, the banking sector bears little resemblance to that of the rest of the country. North Dakotans do not depend on Wall Street banks to decide the fate of their livelihoods and the future of their communities, and rely instead on locally owned banks and credit unions. With 89 small and mid-sized community banks and 38 credit unions, North Dakota has six times as many locally owned financial institutions per person as the rest of the nation, and these institutions control a resounding 83 percent of the market. Much of the difference is owed to the Bank of North Dakota. Continue reading
Amazon’s predatory monopoly is still unchecked, but a coalition of authors is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate it. In a 24-page letter, the coalition contends that Amazon is abusing its market power in ways that undermine competition and compromise liberty, free speech, and democracy.