The New Monopoly Capitalism

The new monopoly capital literature asserts that competition in the US economy has declined over the last few decades, resulting in deteriorating consumer welfare, economic stagnation and increasing income inequality. These claims of a pervasive growth of monopoly are questionable, emerging from aggregative statistical tests of mainstream static theory without the necessary case study complements, and mask an underlying tendency for competition to intensify from a dynamic, behavioural perspective. A key supposed consequence of this monopolising tendency, increasing income inequality, has been generated not by the expansion of monopoly power but from heightened levels of labour exploitation in the context of intensified international competition. In specific sectors, a countervailing anti-competitive tendency has emerged from a growing intimacy between the state and economic interests, most especially with the increasing prominence of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the structure of giant firms. The dangers of a politically convenient focus on a non-existent, all-pervasive trend in the direction of monopoly is that it distracts attention and energy from a range of substantive issues surrounding the corporate sector, including the noxious possibility of the emergence, in the US and other parts of the world, of a xenophobic politics centred round these national champions.

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