Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction

I’m just finishing up Barry Lynn’s new book, Cornered:  The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction.  As usual with Barry, it’s a provocative and different look at what’s happening to small businesses in the US.  The basic gist is this:  as large firms build global supply chains, they gain the market power needed to smaller firms and entrepreneurs out of the marketplace.  The book is full of details of how firms like Wal-Mart and Luxottica, the Italian eyewear maker, have built up strong monopoly postions, making it nearly impossible for smaller players to compete.   This is not a new story.  I remember a 2003 Fast Company piece that looked at how Vlasic Pickles was pushed into near bankruptcy thanks to price pressures from Wal-Mart (http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html).  Yet, when relatively large firms, like Vlasic, are challenged, we can expect that the pressures on traditional Mom and Pops is even more intense.   Lynn’s proposed remedies involve stricter antitrust rules and other regulation, but I wonder if there are other actions that might be available in terms of providing proactive support to entrepreneurs operating in these new markets.  There’s also a role for other grass roots strategies such as Buy-Local efforts and even support for community or employee-owned ventures.  Regardless, Cornered is definitely worth a read.

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