Analyze and criticize the statement: The strategy of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and other U.S. antimonopoly legislation is to ensure that each company has meaningful competitors in every product market in which it participates. This strategy works to prevent monopoly pricing of products but unfortunately it is inadequate to prevent the development of quasi-political control of entire societies by oligopolies whose member corporations share a quasi-political agenda. Therefore, as the world becomes a single market, some new strategy must be developed to control the reach of the corporate oligopolies.
The statement is illustrating how the Sherman Anti-Trust Act needs to be updated. This is because globalization has created situations, where multinational corporations can own a variety of assets around the world. The problem is that many foreign-based firms could avoid the different provisions of this law based upon: the properties, resources and assets that they control. This means that they can have a major impact in what happens to the U.S. economy and markets.
A good example of this can be seen with the Citigroup merger. For years, many proponents claimed that the Glass Steagall Act was preventing banks from competing internationally. This is a Depression era law that required strict segregation between: banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies. The basic idea was to limit their exposure to the economy from: excessive risking taking during times of economic prosperity. (Hardaway, 2011, pp. 85 — 114)
However, once this law was repealed is when a number of American and foreign-based firms began purchasing large financial institutions. This allowed them to market subprime mortgages as safe investments around the globe. Yet, in reality these were very risky and one of the main causes of the financial crisis. Once this happened, is when a firm became too big to fail. (Hardaway, 2011, pp. 85 — 114) This is illustrating how the Sherman Anti-Trust Act needs to be updated, to reflect the large international oligopolies that have been created. If this were to occur, it will limit the total amount of assets that a particular firm can own (overseas and domestically). This will reduce the exposure of a company’s activities on: the economy and consumers.
What about personal wealth? Does the high degree of effective control of the world economy by the “corporate tribe,” along with the extreme concentration of personal wealth in the United States in the hands of the same individuals, who control the largest corporations, mean that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Clayton Act have been failures?
The Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Clayton Act are not failures. This is because they were designed to monitor the kinds of activities corporations were involved in. As time has gone by, these laws were regularly updated to reflect the changes in: technology, business and address any kind of loop holes. However, when there have not been any kind of new regulations imposed, both laws will become ineffective. (Gerber, 2010, pp. 31 — 44)
A good example of this can be seen with the passage of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Pre-Notification Act of 1976. This law was passed to deal with issues such as: mergers and acquisitions. At the time, regulators were not aware of a merger, until it was announced. The problem is that no one was checking to see if the combined company would be in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Clayton Act. To deal with these issues, Congress passed the Hart-Scott-Rodino Pre-Notification Act of 1976. This required all firms to submit any documentation surrounding any merger to regulators (prior to the announcement). This addressed the changes that occurred in the way businesses were operating. (Gerber, 2010, pp. 31 — 44)
These elements are showing, how the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Clayton Act need to be updated on a global scale. If this were to take place, it will address the economic disparities by: preventing the wealthy from using multinational firms to increase the size of their net worth. As a result, both laws are not failures. Instead, the various provisions need to be updated to reflect the transformations in the world economy over the last 30 years.
Oligarchy, Oligopoly or Democracy? If you were to lobby Congress and inform them again why the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was enacted, what it stands for, and why oligopolies are not for our society, what do you think the response from Congress would be? What would be their argument?
Congress would agree with the historical precedent set by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and its usefulness. However, when it comes to making any kind of changes to existing laws, is when they will disagree in how to address these challenges. This is because many of the more conservative members will be opposed to any kind of legislation that will hurt business. (Weir, 2007, pp. 37 — 39)
The reason why, is they feel that the federal government has a history of over regulating the economy. When this happens, there is the possibility that American companies will be at a competitive disadvantage in the world markets. Moreover, any kind of regulations that will limit the activities of firms, will result in reduced investment capital and an increase in the unemployment rate. (Weir, 2007, pp. 37 — 39)
During an election year, Congress does not want to upset the voters and will do anything to avoid these kinds of negative perceptions. Once the election is over, is when many of these individuals will be heavily lobbied by corporate special interests. They want to stall or limit any kind of legislation. In either case, these activities will maintain the status quo. As a result, Congress will do nothing to address these challenges. This is because they feel that any kind of changes to these laws; could be considered to be anti-competitive. (Weir, 2007, pp. 37 — 39)
Gerber, D. (2010). Global Competition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Hardaway, R. (2011). The Great American Housing Bubble. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Weir, R. (2007). Class in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
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