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On Monopolies -- from Standard Oil to Google and Amazon

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It is an interesting case because far from extracting high prices from a hapless public, two of the firms offer their products/services free, the third prides itself on the cheapest prices, at-home shopping and convenient delivery. Apple is a more conventional case holding sway over about 45 percent of cell phone users in the US through proprietary hardware and software.


In such a diverse environment what could the study group come up with but a regulatory body, a digital authority to regulate the industry -- and a supreme irony given the major research finding of regulatory ineffectiveness from the man (George Stigler) whose name heads the Center shepherding their effort. Other economists also have been skeptical calling it the wrong tool to address a nonexistent problem. Yet the problem is not difficult to see.


There is a chilling nature to these websites and platforms as they follow your surfing, offering ads, purchase suggestions, other sites of interest, a looming presence behind your right shoulder. Something is not quite right when so much power is concentrated in so few corporations. Forget the invisible hand of free markets, there is an invisible hand guiding your clicking finger.












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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
 
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