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Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction 1st Edition

33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470186381
ISBN-10: 0470186380
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Editorial Reviews


"Sometimes the evidence of economic disaster is right in front of your eyes, but you can't see how all the pieces fit together. Then a book comes along to explain things, and suddenly everything meshes. Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction is that kind of a book." (, February 11, 2010) 

From the Inside Flap

You're at the mall, looking to buy a pair of prescription sunglasses. Which of the four eyeglass stores listed in the directory should you visit first? Don't waste a lot of time deciding; it really doesn't matter. A single, huge international corporation owns three of the four eyeglass stores listed. And the fourth? Out of business. Think you'll try your luck at Sears? Don't bother. The same company you've never heard of controls their eyewear department, too. What appears at first to be a fine example of competitive capitalism in action is, in fact, an immense monopoly in disguise. And it's far from being the only one.

In Cornered, journalist Barry C. Lynn paints a genuinely alarming picture: most of our public debates about globalization, competitiveness, creative destruction, and risky finance are nothing more than a cover for the widespread consolidation of power in nearly every imaginable sector of the American economy.

Cornered strips the camouflage from the secret world of twenty-first-century monopolies—neofeudalist empires whose sheer size, vast resources, and immense political power enable them to control virtually every major industry in America in an increasingly authoritarian manner. Lynn reveals how these massive juggernauts, which would have been illegal just thirty years ago, came into being, how they have destroyed or devoured their competition, and how they collude with one another to maintain their power and create the illusion of open, competitive markets.

The Obama administration has promised more aggressive enforcement on antitrust issues, but Lynn argues that they are missing the forest for the trees. For decades, the federal government has all but encouraged companies to buy one another up, outsource all their production, and make their profits by leveraging their market share. It will take more than a lawsuit or two to overthrow America's corporatist oligarchy and restore a model of capitalism that protects our rights as property holders and citizens.

Through stories of real people and real industries, Barry C. Lynn shows how monopolies threaten independent businesses, squelch innovation, degrade the quality and safety of basic products, destabilize our most vital industrial and financial systems, and destroy the very fabric of democracy. Avoiding the partisan cant that has poisoned virtually every important American debate in recent years, he explains how, over the past three decades, leaders of both parties and thinkers across the political spectrum have encouraged and enabled the growth of monopolies. He traces the history of how such now-familiar phrases as "free market" and "consumer welfare" were created and used to pave the way for monopolization. Lynn also demonstrates how the drive for "always lower prices," routinely invoked to justify ruthless practices that might once have landed their perpetrators in jail, makes jobs disappear, puts small businesses out of business, and turns dreams of entrepreneurial success into impossible fantasies.

Complete with an entirely fresh set of solutions based on the traditional American approach of empowering the individual citizen, Cornered is both a wake-up call and a call to arms for anyone who believes in democracy, competition, and liberty for all.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470186380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470186381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

In his first book - End of the Line (2005) - Barry wrote a pathbreaking study of industrial systems made "Too Big to Fail" and of the dangers of overly extreme interdependence among nations. The Washington Post called End of the Line "Tom Friedman for grown-ups" and Ha Joon Chang compared that work to the writings of John Kenneth Galbraith. In Cornered, Barry takes an explosive look at how financiers use their powers in ways that destroy jobs, crush independent businesses, hobble innovation, degrade safety, harm our environment, and, most dangerous of all, threaten the political foundations of our democratic republic. Barry is director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Project, and a senior fellow, at the New America Foundation. He has presented his work to high officials in Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Taiwan, and the European Commission, as well as the White House and U.S. Treasury.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A. Godshall on March 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As Thomas Frank of the Wall Street Journal put it (3/3/10) . "Barry C. Lynn's recent book, "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction," has about it the feel of a secret history. It arises directly from the old antitrust tradition, and it presents us with an amazing catalogue of present-day monopolies, oligopolies and economic combinations. Its subjects are, by definition, some of the largest and most powerful organizations in the world. And yet almost none of it was familiar to me....

Mr. Lynn tells us, for example, about the power of single companies or small groups of companies over such disparate fields as eyeglasses, certain categories of pet food, washer-dryer sales, auto parts, many aspects of food processing, surfboards, medical syringes--and that the same situation would almost certainly exist in the sacred beer market were it not for the peculiarities of local alcoholic-beverage regulations....

This is, we are often reminded, a populist age, with fresh flare-ups of fury every time Wall Street bonuses hit the headlines. And in Mr. Lynn's combination of outrage against "the rich" and reverence for the country's democratic tradition, he seems to capture the sensibility of the times perfectly. "Cornered" could well become a sort of manifesto for our time, a road map for a revival of the old antitrust sentiment."

This book is a must read. Run don't walk to your local bookstore.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Walter J. Meldrich, Jr. on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every American needs to read this book. Especially the tea party types. The massive consolidation of corporate America has led to virtually all of our recent problems. Among them: rapid offshoring, loss of product safety, the squeezing of small business and the middle class, the corruption of government and especially congress, the too big to fail syndrome, the routine corporate corruption, etc. These problems will continue until we strongly reassert our anti-trust laws that Reagan decided to ignore and every president since has refused to enforce including Obama. If we don't fix this, plan on the US assuming third world status soon.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mililani on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Besides being a terrific read, Cornered is a profoundly important and powerfully disturbing book. In the area of pharmaceuticals, the industry I know best, intense competition still exists, and thus Pharma might not seem to fall into the category of a monopoly. Even so, this book captures much of what has gone wrong in that particular corner of American capitalism. I now understand better why the drug industry has become larger and larger with fewer and fewer companies, and that other industries also substitute marketing for real innovation. Most disturbing of all is the out-sized political power that huge profits and consolidation provide. The founders of this country were very clear about the need to balance the power of branches of government in order to curb the tendency toward authoritarianism and tyranny, but excessive corporate power can be just as dangerous. Cornered offers a strong argument against the prevailing and near-religious faith in the power of the so-called "free market" to make us all rich and cure all our social ills.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Indrajith A. Weeraratne on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Cornered" is written for the times we live in because Barry Lynn, although may not have intended it that way, tells us why the world cannot come out of the current recession. It also leads to the pessimistic conclusion that this time we will be heading towards a permanent depression unless people realize the true predicament that we are in and organize massive demonstrations demanding the governments quit treating the majority of the people as suckers and take drastic actions before this crisis takes the world towards a human catastrophe as we have never seen in history.

There are two sides to the global economy. One side is the businesses and the other side is the consumer. Lynn addresses the problems with the business side illustrating how the trend for regulation-free economies has hoodwinked us to accept a few large corporations controlling the whole economy curtailing any competition (with the greatest communicator of our time, President Reagan, taking the side of anti-regulation group along with his Supreme Court appointees from the heart of the corporate world--such as Clarence Thomas representing Monsanto--what chance did the uninformed common people have?). He shows us how two or three major corporations own and dominate almost every industry. This finding is so bleak since it leads to the conclusion that there is no longer free competition and thus capitalism is no longer possible. And without capitalism and competition we cannot create enough jobs for the population.

Another disturbing fact is that these large corporations are owned by a small percentage of people who also own most of the wealth in the world today.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on March 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many people I now were outraged when the government bailed out Wall Street firms while stating they were "too big to fail". It was not just the money involved, although that was a significant portion of their anger. They simply did not understand how a company had become too big to fail. The author here explains exactly how that started and where we are now, and where we are headed if we do not make changes.

Beginning during the Reagan years, antitrust laws were viewed as something that should not be enforced with rigor and that "free markets" would allow companies to grow, consolidate and save consumers money by economy of scale. This view continued on through Bush, Clinton and Bush Jr. and represents where we stand now. Corporations have indeed consolidated, and in the process they have come to monopolize entire segments of the economy.

While they were busy grabbing up other companies, they were also busy sending jobs and machinery overseas, along with the technical knowledge needed to be creative. Research and development budgets stagnated, and while prices did fall, so did the number of choices available to us as consumers. And, because corporations had swallowed up all the competition, we are in a situation where entire markets will collapse if these corporations collapse.

They book is an eye opening read into what has happened over the past several decades and exposes why it happened in addition to who is responsible. If I had a complaint, it is that the book is dense with economic terms, and the author sometimes strays into economic history that is not needed for an understanding of the discussion.

I would strongly recommend this book to all! It may be a dense read. But it also contains important information about our economy and how we need to take it back!
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