miércoles, 25 de septiembre de 2019

"The myth of capitalism" - Jonathan Tepper

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of CompetitionThe Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From time to time a book on economy reaches a certain success among the general public. The popular success usually goes hand in hand with achieving influence among the elites as an inspirational book for public policies making. It was the case of Pickety´s "The capitalism of XXI Century" , and up to certain point "The myth of capitalism". Both books are complimentary visions of how growing inequality is taken place in our societies, although the author of the later saw both books as rival views on the issue.

The main topic of Jonathan Teper´s book is how monopolies/oligopolies kill competition and the impact of this situation on the economy, which are the decrease of innovation, low wages, high prices and the growing inequality. Across the pages of the work, the author provide evidences of this effects in the US economy that he sees as captured by oligopolies in almost all its main sectors. In particular, there´s a whole chapter dedicated to the digital sector which the writer sees as a sector where all the downsides of monopolies are more evident.

The book contains also an interest historic view of anti-cartel laws and policies. In the same manner that Piketty shows in his book how inequality has been historically linked to low growth, Tepper shows its link to the lack of competition. In a whole chapter devoted to this historic view, the author presents the inception of Anti-cartel laws due to the need to limit the politic power of big companies (not only to benefit consumers) and its complicated road to its actual enforcement on the last years of the XIX century and the beginning of the the XX century. This historic stroll is completed with the golden era of anti cartel policies between the II World War and the Reagan´s Presidency, which gave way to the decay of a real fight against monopolies. According with the views of the author, the stronger the anti cartel institutions, the more effective the laws and the bigger the competition and the lower the inequality.

Tepper gives also a warning on the dangers of an excess of regulations to fight monopolies. On one hand, the political power of monopolies/oligopolies allow them to capture the regulatory process and makes it plays in their favour. On the other hand, while the big companies like monopolies may fulfill any kind of regulation, the compliance with laws is more costly for small and medium companies, so the effect maybe a reinforcement of oligopolies instead of its limitation.

Apart from the interesting contents of the book, its style is accessible to any reader and it provides a summary of the main ideas of each. chapter at its end. So, even if you are not fond of economy books perhaps this one may be your cup of tea.

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