Chicago finance professor Raghuram Rajan suggests that free markets need populist support against an unholy alliance of private-sector and state elites.

John Fourier

2019-05-21 12:37:00 Tue ET

Chicago finance professor Raghuram Rajan shows that free markets need populist support against an unholy alliance of private-sector and state elites. When a few corporations dominate the U.S. economy, this oligopoly inevitably teams up with the primary instruments of state control for greater rent protection, political clout, and economic power concentration. Regulatory efforts should thus strike a delicate balance between legitimate antitrust scrutiny and capitalist productivity. In the post-modern era of global supply chains, American corporations benefit from enormous economies of scale and scope, network effects, and real-time data analytics for continual efficiency gains and performance improvements.

For instance, Amazon uses fast algorithms to learn from its internal real-time data to optimize delivery times, retail prices, and customer services etc; Facebook and Google applies artificial intelligence to optimize the dual-platform experiences of both mobile web users and advertisers; Apple monopolizes iOS app usage on its proprietary App Store online marketplace. These oligopolies often leverage their market power to charge higher mark-ups to the detriment of active users worldwide. Despite these key anticompetitive practices, the right regulatory response requires rebalancing the current oligopolistic industries to promote meaningful competition. U.S. capitalism needs bottom-up populist reforms and democratic communities to preserve trust in the vibrant market economy.

 


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