Sunday, May 24, 2015

Robert Reich — Whatever Happened to Antitrust?

Last week’s settlement between the Justice Department and five giant banks reveals the appalling weakness of modern antitrust.

The banks had engaged in the biggest price-fixing conspiracy in modern history. Their self-described “cartel” used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency exchange market. It was a “brazen display of collusion” that went on for years, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

But there will be no trial, no executive will go to jail, the banks can continue to gamble in the same currency markets, and the fines – although large – are a fraction of the banks’ potential gains and will be treated by the banks as costs of doing business.

America used to have antitrust laws that permanently stopped corporations from monopolizing markets, and often broke up the biggest culprits.

No longer. Now, giant corporations are taking over the economy – and they’re busily weakening antitrust enforcement....
Because "free markets." How does that follow? Doesn't have to.

And it's not just the big banks. It's also pharma, insurance, you name it.

The result is economic power, economic rent extraction, prices higher than they would be in a competitive market, higher "profits"and higher corporate share to worker share.

Welcome to neoliberalism.

Robert Reich
Whatever Happened to Antitrust?


NeilW said...

The current free market ideas are like nuclear reactors with poorly engineered and monitored containment.

And the GFC was their Three Mile Island.

Won't be long before we get Chernobyl.

Dan Lynch said...

Our anti-trust laws are still on the books but have not been enforced in recent history for obvious reasons $$$$$. Matt Stoller has blogged about this.