What Ever Happened to Antitrust?

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The May 20 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. It was a “brazen display of collusion” that went on for years, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. But there will be no trial [and] no executive will go to jail. The fines … will be treated by the banks as costs of doing business. America used to have antitrust laws that permanently stopped corporations from monopolizing markets.

No longer. The result has been higher prices for the many, and higher profits for the few. It’s a hidden upward redistribution from the majority of Americans to corporate executives and wealthy shareholders. Similar upward distributions are occurring elsewhere in the economy. The four largest food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing. Monsanto alone owns the key genetic traits to more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted by farmers in the United States, and 80 percent of the corn. Big Agribusiness wants to keep it this way. The list goes on, industry after industry, across the economy. Antitrust has been ambushed by the giant companies it was designed to contain. The market is rigged. And unless government unrigs it through bold antitrust action to restore competition, the upward distributions hidden inside the “free market” will become even larger.

Note: The above article was written by former US Secretary of Labor and current professor of public policy at UC Berkeley Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry and the income inequalitythat this contributes to.

StevieRay Hansen
Editor, Bankster Crime

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