Economic Liberties Releases Anti-Monopoly Agenda

August 6, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — With the pandemic guaranteeing the need for an overt and aggressive government role in structuring the economy for a long time to come, the American Economic Liberties Project today released “Confronting America’s Concentration Crisis: A Ledger of Harms and Framework for Advancing Economic Liberty for All.” A detailed compilation of the last few years of research into the range of ways concentrated corporate power is harming families and society, Economic Liberties’ “Ledger of Harms” also maps out an agenda for breaking this dangerous power.

“It’s now widely accepted that corporate concentration is extreme and contributing to a broad range of economic and social ills, and hopefully the research we’ve gathered here puts any remaining doubt to rest,” said Sarah Miller, Executive Director of the American Economic Liberties Project. “Now, the question is what we should do about it. So, we’re offering a framework to help answer that question. Translating it into action will be central to whether and how quickly our society can become more just, equitable, and secure.”

For decades, policymakers have allowed corporations to become bigger, more powerful, and more concentrated. The result is that monopolies are everywhere. From Facebook and Google’s control of online advertising to Koch Industries’ powerhouse fertilizer and petrochemical conglomerate, to smaller markets, where monopolies control tax filing (Intuit), dialysis (Davita), and even cheerleading (Varsity Brands), economic power is increasingly concentrated in small circle of private hands.

Often deeply integrated with Wall Street interests, these corporations wield tremendous power over our economy and democracy. As the research compiled in the “Ledger of Harms” demonstrates, this concentrated power is producing unequal and abusive outcomes. A few notable examples:

  •  Combined with lower wages, corporate consolidation costs the average American household $5,000 a year in lost purchasing power (Philippon, 2019). · Median annual compensation—now only $33,000—would be more than $10,000 higher if employers were less concentrated (Harvard Law Review, 2018).
  • Workers are getting an even smaller percentage of profits today than they were 30 years ago, even though corporations are making about $14,000 more in profit per worker. This is almost entirely due to increased corporate concentration (University of Chicago, 2016). · Employment falls as employers’ power over the labor market increases and is roughly 13 percent less today because of concentration (Harvard Law Review, 2018). · The effects of corporate concentration disproportionately impacts communities of color in a range of ways, exacerbating existing inequalities caused by racial exclusion and structural discrimination (Hamilton and Nighty, 2019).
  • Concentrated hospital markets—which face less competition on quality and innovation— have been associated with significantly higher mortality rates and substantially worse patient outcomes (House Energy and Commerce Committee, 2018; Health Affairs, 2017).

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, Economic Liberties’ Ledger of Harms provides a framework for reversing corporate concentration, promoting fair competition, and advancing economic liberty for all. Policymakers should structure markets to achieve three broad outcomes such that:

  • Working people, consumers, and communities are not subject to unjust transfers of wealth and power resulting from discrimination, extortion, and abuse from monopolies and predatory finance;
  • Entrepreneurs and businesspeople can succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work, not through leveraging market power or engaging in race-to-the-bottom, unfair conduct towards workers, consumers, suppliers, or competitors; and
  • Wealth and political power are broadly and equitably distributed in support of a strong, inclusive democratic society.

With these overarching principles in mind, a comprehensive approach to addressing corporate concentration ought to focus on four categories:

  • Stemming pandemic-related concentration as a part of the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Arresting and reversing concentration across the board through a revitalized regulatory and enforcement approach;
  • Designing industry-by-industry legal and regulatory remedies for particularly concentrated and abusive markets; and
  • Reforming the operational structures and culture of democratic institutions that currently bias them towards advancing the interests of large corporate actors, at the expense of workers, consumers, small businesses, and marginalized communities. Read Economic Liberties’

“Confronting America’s Concentration Crisis: A Ledger of Harms and Framework for Advancing Economic Liberty for All” here.

Read “End Monopoly Power” by Economic Liberties’ Executive Director Sarah Miller here.

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.


Economic Liberties works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. AELP believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.