18 Comments
Nov 29, 2020Liked by Matt Stoller

I noticed recently that Groupe PSA, three years after buying Opel from General Motors, has now arranged to merge with Fiat Chrysler, ‘creating’ the world's fourth largest car manufacturer by volume. I was concerned that the purchase of Opel would give PSA excessive power in the European mass auto market, and now I suspect them of aiming for a roll-up. The merger is currently pending antitrust approval, and I'd be very interested to see you write about the subject.

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Nov 28, 2020Liked by Matt Stoller

Good stuff Matt. I had a free Spotify account for several years and when listening to music they would have you listen to a commercial or two every 30 minutes which is something I could deal with. Recently they started playing an insane amount of commercials so I started researching how to purchase and play my own music library. Maybe it would've been easier for someone more tech savvy than me to figure out but I thought it was a lot more difficult than it should have been. Anyway I did figure it out and I also read that the artists get compensated more this way. The way I figure it the $10 I could have given to Spotify every month can be used to build a pretty nice library over time.

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They conglomerates moved on us while we slept. My small-time grievance is Amazon invading the international rare-books field and destroying it almost instantly, and I seriously doubt Bezos even reads.

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author

Can you explain what happened?

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Bezos suddenly acquired ABEBooks a Canadian outfit that offered small serious booksellers a global marketplace. Those were great days. Buyers relied on written (of course) descriptions, there was good faith all around and a mutual love of books. ABEBooks also had developed a marvelous tool for cataloging your books, keeping track of sales, etc.

One day I shipped a book to Australia without noticing NEW fine print--28 day return policy. I got screwed on that one and paid 28 bucks in postage both ways after, about, 28 days. NOBODY who is serious about rare books lets people touch them. They're old, and in various stages of fragility. Serious booksellers dropped off the site. I contributed some still-current descriptive language but no sensible collector would ship out that kind of product for a 28-day vacation in someone else's house. This is when we found out that Amazon snapped up ABEBooks. Golden opportunity lost to small business people.

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When did this acquisition happen? I have used ABEBooks for many years precisely because it was an independent platform. This is horribly discouraging news - I don't know where I'll go now.

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Wow. I am so pissed off on your behalf.

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Hi Matt, today NYTimes disclosed that Amazon has been flagrantly selling illegal devices for disabling vehicle emissions controls. See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/climate/diesel-trucks-air-pollution.html

Excerpt below:

"

A crackdown on the diesel-tuner market would be far more difficult than pursuing a single company like Volkswagen. “There’s a lot of small businesses in play; it’s more difficult to enforce than the one big global automaker,” said Mr. Kodjak of the International Council on Clean Transportation. “Amazon sells diesel tuning equipment. You can retune your engine for $400.”

"

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Welcome back, Matt. I have to wonder how and when the advantage that the medium of books specifically, and not writing generally, provides society will have a Renaissance. Competition between titans, insofar as it fosters mergers, leave books and their authors the victims of collateral damage, whether it be by virtue of captured corporate cultures or a lack of risk and competition.

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"Apple is being paid by Google to exclude competitors in search." If you even spent five seconds to verify this, you would find that Apple offers several search options on its mobile platform. Google just pays to be the default option.

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author

I spent a good amount of this post discussing why defaults are the key fulcrum for exclusion. Researching and writing that took more than five minutes.

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Below is my answer. Hope you see it!

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there is DUCK DUCK GO!!!! already

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I despise Google and I never have and never will use anything relating to Apple. Ever.

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Wonderful, Matt. When you get tired of writing on monopoly, you can teach other journalists how to write on technical topics with an engaging voice. :)

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"an attempt to gain bargaining power against a monopolist bookseller."

We have a word for single maker (monopoly), and for a single buyer (monopsony). Is there a word for a single middleman? If not, monomazony?

I guess from the greek roots it would be monompory, or something like that (monos + émporos [merchant]).

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We call that a company town in these parts.

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Excellent start. What becomes apparent in all of these analysis though is the need to acknowledge that words like " democracy" and "monopoly" are not actual political terms. There is no one _against_ democracy in the West and no one is _for_ monopoly. What is the case is our thoughts and beliefs are orthogonal. What are we saying when we in the Global West fight "for democracy"? In many cases, I claim, we are fighting to retain our own position as empire. And when we fight "monopoly" we think about the thresholds of capitalism - that Biden cannot help but be a repeat of Obama's toothless antitrust efforts because we cannot 'let China win."

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