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Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction Hardcover – January 7, 2010
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"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." (huffingtonpost.com, 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.
Top customer reviews
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!
Their american dream and our american nightmare.
Capitalism is the right thing, but now, it is being implemented in the wrong way.
Read it and find out how and why.
This book calls attention to an important dimension of America's and the world's economic dilemma, the concentration of economic power in the hands of giant companies and corporations, industrial or financial that use their advantage to set prices and influence policy to serve the interests of their top management and or big shareholders in ways that neither contribute to real economic efficiency or the public good. Lynn has also done a good job of exposing the symbiotic relationship between big corporations and big government and the gradual reduction of the power of ordinary citizens to influence events. The discussion of the way giant oil companies and deregulated financial entities are able to influence oil and gas prices up and down for speculative purposes is quite enlightening. There is a similar discussion of speculation and the price of oil in Yves Smith's book ECONNed which parallels that presented in this book.
The book is written in a somewhat rambling anecdotal style which combines important cases with many that seem less relevant to the overall arguments. This makes the book more entertaining but blunts the important message he is trying to make to the public. A systematic presentation of the author's main arguments at the beginning and a summing up at the end would help make the message clearer to anyone seeking remedies.
Overall I think the book is well worth reading. For more details on the contents of the book potential readers can read some of the other reviews.
IN an era where a company like American Express sponsors "Small Business Saturday", Lynn clearly explains how the "WalMarting" of our retail sector has done more damage than good, and how that same principle has infected other sectors of our economy.
A must read for people who are looking for a solid but simple explanation for a large part of our economic crisis, and a call to action for all of us if we hope to fix it. This means utilizing Amazon to purchase from independent sellers when possible. Time to break the monopolistic death grip on our economy.
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