For the last forty years, merging companies have convinced regulatory agencies that their merger will be better for customers — most often pledging that it will lower prices. “This is the standard playbook with a merger,” Co-Director Stacy Mitchell explains on Pitchfork Economics. In early October when Kroger announced its proposed merger with Albertsons, Stacy knew that the company’s statement promising to pass savings on to consumers was blatantly false. “Maybe [Kroger-Albertsons] find some ways to cut costs, but that’s mostly because they’re cutting jobs, pushing down wages, and squeezing farmers.” Not only are we losers as consumers, but as Stacy argues, “we’re also losers as people who need to make a living.”
Kroger and Albertsons operate dozens of different regional supermarket chains. If the merger goes through, stores in some cities and towns that were once competing would be owned by the same company. The combined Kroger-Albertsons would likely close some of those stores, leading to massive layoffs, including the potential loss of union jobs. Meanwhile, farmers and independent grocers would have a much tougher time making profits because of the new mega-company’s market power. As President Biden once noted, “We’re now 40 years into the experiment of letting giant corporations accumulate more and more power. And what have we gotten from it? Less growth, weakened investment, fewer small businesses… I believe the experiment failed.”
Stacy echoes this thinking — this experiment has failed many Americans, but we have the power to stop it. She concludes, “there is a sea change underway in antitrust policy and I think there is a high likelihood that this merger is going to be challenged.”
Listen to the episode here.
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