A Stone Is a Rock in a Black Market . . .

#AntitrustLaws #FederalTradeCommission #ShermanAntitrustAct #AnnaPerdue

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[1] https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-antitrust-laws/single-firm-conduct/monopolization-defined

The antitrust laws prohibit conduct by a single firm that unreasonably restrains competition by creating or maintaining monopoly power. This, is according to the Federal Trade Commission found on their website. Most Section 2 claims involve the conduct of a firm with a leading market position, although Section 2 of the Sherman Act also bans attempts to monopolize and conspiracies to monopolize.


As a first step, courts ask if the firm has "monopoly power" in any market. This requires in-depth study of the products sold by the leading firm, and any alternative products consumers may turn to if the firm attempted to raise prices.


Then courts ask if that leading position was gained or maintained through improper conduct—that is, something other than merely having a better product, superior management or historic accident. Here courts evaluate the anticompetitive effects of the conduct and its procompetitive justifications.[1] ...but what happens if a big Corporations owns the major shares of nearly every major business in the world? We’ll get to that soon. ...but first,


[2] https://www.investopedia.com/insights/history-of-us-monopolies/

Monopolies came to the United States with the colonial administration. The large-scale public works needed to make the New World hospitable to Old World immigrants required large companies to carry them out. These companies were granted exclusive contracts for these works by the colonial administrators. Even after the American Revolution, many of these colonial holdovers still functioned due to the contracts and land that they held.


A monopoly is characterized by a lack of competition, which can mean higher prices and inferior products. However, the great economic power that monopolies hold has also had positive consequences for the U.S. Monopolies control the majority of market share in their industry or sector with little to no competition.


The last great American monopolies were created a century apart, and one lasted over a century. The Sherman Antitrust Act banned trusts and monopolistic combinations that placed “unreasonable” restrictions on interstate and international trade. Globalization and the maturity of the world economy have prompted calls for the retirement of antitrust laws.


The focus of modern-day monopolies centers around Internet companies, such as Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet. In response to a large public outcry to check the price-fixing abuses of these monopolies, the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in 1890. This act banned trusts and monopolistic combinations that placed “unreasonable” restrictions on interstate and international trade.


The act acted like a hammer for the government, giving it the power to shatter big companies into smaller pieces to suit their own needs. Despite this act’s passage in 1890, the next 50 years saw the formation of many domestic monopolies. However, during this same period, the antitrust legislation was used to attack several monopolies, with varying levels of success. The general trend with the use of the act seemed to have been to make a distinction between good monopolies and bad monopolies, as seen by the government.


One example is International Harvester, which produced cheap agricultural equipment for a largely agrarian nation and was considered untouchable regarding political reasons. American Tobacco, on the other hand, was suspected of charging more than a fair price for cigarettes—then touted as the cure for everything from asthma to menstrual cramps—and consequently became a victim of legislators’ wrath in 1907 and was broken up in 1911.


The oil industry was prone to what is called a natural monopoly because of the rarity of the products that it produced. John D. Rockefeller, the founder and chair of Standard Oil, and his partners took advantage of both the rarity of oil and the revenue produced from it to set up a monopoly without the help of the banks.


The business practices and questionable tactics that Rockefeller used to create Standard Oil would make the Enron crowd blush. By the time Standard Oil had cornered 90% of oil production and distribution in the United States, it had learned how to make money off of even its industrial waste, with Vaseline being but one of the new products it launched. Andrew Carnegie went a long way in creating a monopoly in the steel industry when J.P. Morgan bought his steel company and melded it into U.S. Steel.


A monstrous corporation approaching the size of Standard Oil, U.S. Steel actually did very little with the resources in its grasp, which can point to the limitations of having only one owner with a single vision. The corporation survived its court battle with the Sherman Act and went on to lobby the government for protective tariffs to help it compete internationally, but it grew very little. Following the breakup of sugar, tobacco, oil, and meatpacking monopolies, big business didn’t know where to turn because there were no clear guidelines about what constituted monopolistic business practices.


The founders and management of so-called “bad monopolies” were also enraged by the hands-off approach taken with International Harvester. They justly argued that the Sherman Act didn’t make any allowance for a specific business or product and that its execution should be universal rather than operate like a lightning bolt, striking select businesses at the government’s behest. In response, the Clayton Act was introduced in 1914. It set some specific examples of practices that would attract Sherman’s hammer.


Among these were interlocking directorships, tie-in sales, and certain mergers and acquisitions if they substantially lessened the competition in a market. This was followed by a succession of other acts demanding that businesses consult the government before any large mergers or acquisitions took place. Monopolies tend to arise at a point in history when new products or services become dominant within society, such as oil, telephone service, computer software, and now, social media.


Although these innovations did give businesses a slightly clearer picture of what not to do, they did little to curb the randomness of antitrust action. Major League Baseball even found itself under investigation in the 1920s, but it escaped by claiming to be a sport rather than a business and thus not classified as interstate commerce. The last great American monopolies were created a century apart, and one lasted over a century. Others were very short-lived or still continue operating today. AT&T Inc., a government-supported monopoly, was a public utility that would have to be considered a coercive monopoly.


Like Standard Oil, the AT&T monopoly made the industry more efficient and wasn’t guilty of fixing prices, but rather of the potential to fix prices. The breakup of AT&T by then-President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s gave birth to the “Baby Bells.” Since that time, many of the Baby Bells have begun to merge and increase in size to provide better service to a wider area. Very likely, the breakup of AT&T caused a sharp reduction in service quality for many customers—and, in some cases, higher prices—but the settling period has elapsed, and the Baby Bells are growing to find a natural balance in the market without calling down Sherman’s hammer again.


Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), on the other hand, was never actually broken up even though it lost its case. The case against it was centered on whether Microsoft was abusing its position as essentially a noncoercive monopoly. Microsoft has been challenged by many companies over time, including by Google, over its operating systems’ continuing hostility to competitors’ software. Just as U.S. Steel couldn’t dominate the market indefinitely because of innovative domestic and international competition, the same is true for Microsoft.


A noncoercive monopoly only exists as long as brand loyalty and consumer apathy keep people from searching for a better alternative. In the world today, technology companies are the new powerful companies, none so much as Facebook (FB), which many consider to be a modern-day monopoly. In December 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Facebook, claiming that it is maintaining its social networking monopoly via anticompetitive conduct.


The FTC claims that Facebook has done this through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the largest social media networks, as well as through imposing anticompetitive conditions on software developers. The five most used social media platforms worldwide as of January 2021 are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Facebook owns four out of five, or 80%. That is a significant amount of control regarding how data is shared, how advertising is conducted, and the fact that consumers have very little in terms of other options to use. Facebook really doesn’t have that much competition.


The FTC has called for a breakup of Facebook through the divestiture of WhatsApp and Instagram, but whether or not the government is able to break up Facebook remains to be seen. Monopolies in American history were large companies that controlled the industry or sector they were in with the ability to control the price of the goods and services they provided. Monopolies are bad because they control the market in which they do business, meaning that they don’t have any competitors. When a company has no competitors, consumers have no choice but to buy from the monopoly.


This means that a monopoly can charge high prices above fair market rates and produce inferior-quality goods, allowing their profits to increase, knowing that consumers will still have to buy their products. Monopolies also mean a lack of innovation because there is no incentive to find new ways to make better products.

Amazon (AMZN) is considered to be a monopoly because it has significant control over its third-party sellers and suppliers—if they want their products to be sold, then they have few options but to sell them on Amazon’s platform, where a significant amount of retail business is now done worldwide.


Amazon’s share of U.S. online retail sales is estimated at 40%, but that figure is believed to be underestimated and more accurately considered to be 50%. Amazon believes these third-party sellers to be competitors and, therefore, has practiced anticompetitive behavior with them to maintain its dominance—and is able to do so because it has such a high market share. [2] ...but what about these Corporations’ asset management firms? Consider how these monopolies created the mother-load of monopolies and how these entities have destroyed America.


[3] https://strangesounds.org/2021/07/blackrock-is-buying-up-us-homes-like-no-tomorrow-real-estate-market-housing.html

Yes! Big Corps destroy the American dream! Blackrock – one of the largest asset management firms – is buying up US homes like no tomorrow.


Homeownership has long been considered an important tool for building financial security and wealth, but it’s becoming more difficult for Americans to achieve. Younger generations are less likely to own a home than those from older generations, with millennials’ homeownership rate 8% lower than that of generation X and baby boomers at the same age. If the rate had remained steady, about 3.4 million more people would own homes in the U.S. today but, instead, younger adults are increasingly choosing to either rent or live with their parents.


There are a number of reasons why homeownership has become less attainable than it was decades ago, from rising debt in younger generations to increased cost of living. A report by the Urban Institute found half those aged 18 to 34 were spending upward of 30% of their income on rent, making them “rent-burdened.” Meanwhile, median housing prices increased 28% in the last two years, pricing some out of the market. However, the shift is not all happenstance.


In the first quarter of 2021, 15% of U.S. homes sold were purchased by corporate investors — not families looking to achieve their American dream. While they’re competing with middle-class Americans for the homes, the average American has virtually no chance of winning a home over an investment firm, which may pay 20% to 50% over asking price, in cash, sometimes scooping up entire neighborhoods at once so they can turn them into rentals.


BlackRock is one of a number of companies mentioned by The Wall Street Journal in a recent exposé. “Yield-chasing investors are snapping up single-family homes, competing with ordinary Americans and driving up prices,” they warned. The question is, why would institutional investors and BlackRock, which manages assets worth $5.7 trillion, be interested in overpaying for modest, single-family homes? To understand the answer, you must look at BlackRock’s partners, which include the World Economic Forum (WEF), and their extreme political and financial clout.


In a Twitter thread posted by user Cultural-husbandry, it’s noted: If the average American is pushed out of the housing market, and most of the available housing is owned by investment groups and corporations, you become beholden to them as your landlord. This fulfills part of the Great Reset’s “new normal” dictum — the part where you will own nothing and be happy. This isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s part of World Economic Forum’s 2030 agenda.


The unstated implication is that the world’s resources will be owned and controlled by the technocratic elite, and you’ll have to pay for the temporary use of absolutely everything. Nothing will actually belong to you, including your home. All items and resources are to be used by the collective, while actual ownership is restricted to an upper stratum of social class. The wealth transfer has already begun. BlackRock’s has no rivals on the market. The New York Times and a majority of other legacy media are largely owned