Anti-trust legislation

SuperMatt

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On a forum I used to be a member of until yesterday, I saw somebody raise a point about the intersection of politics and tech. The story linked below talks about upcoming anti-trust legislation and how it created some strange bedfellows… Matt Gaetz and Pramila Jayapal working together?


PS - Funny, substack (the newsletter system used in the link above) is also facing a bit of controversy. This intersection of tech and politics does seem interesting to consider…..

 

lizkat

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On a forum I used to be a member of until yesterday, I saw somebody raise a point about the intersection of politics and tech. The story linked below talks about upcoming anti-trust legislation and how it created some strange bedfellows… Matt Gaetz and Pramila Jayapal working together?


PS - Funny, substack (the newsletter system used in the link above) is also facing a bit of controversy. This intersection of tech and politics does seem interesting to consider…..


That substack piece is a good read... TIL:

...regulators and enforcers make key policy decisions, and have done a very bad job at it. A good example is they just decided to stop enforcing the anti-chain store Robinson-Patman Act, which prohibits certain forms of kickbacks, as well as prohibiting giving better prices to bigger customers. At some point in the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Justice and FTC chose not to enforce the law anymore. And when they stopped doing so, Walmart and other chain stores, and eventually Amazon, exploded in size and power.

I did not realize that a deliberate decision not to enforce the Robinson-Patman Act was what gave these big box outfits and then Amazon such leeway to operate as they do. I learned quite a bit about how Walmart got to where it is, by having read Charles Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect, but Fishman was focused (as were his sources) on what Walmart does, and not on how legal it has or has not been to do it.

That's not to say I am surprised. It's not like both sides of the aisle are not joined at the hip to industry. I guess I am more surprised now by an apparent turning of the tide showing up in Congress -- and on a bipartisan basis-- even if, as the author of that substack piece notes, the current bits of legislation may not have truly significant effect because it's so hard to write legislation that will pass muster in the courts and escape workarounds by industry.

[ Your comment in passing about membership in a certain forum "until yesterday" reminds me that I no longer have access to some useful links I was once able to fish out with searches of archives over there when I could not remember the specifics offhand but remembered posts or even just who had posted the info. Grrr.... ]
 

lizkat

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And the beat of industry consolidation goes on... only occasionally messed with here and there by DoJ action.

Now it's the salt industry, thanks to a giant holding company that has decided to buy its way into major stakes in the global salt market. DoJ slapped its hand a little during Stone Canyon's latest US acquisitions, but they fended off a NO WAY! ruling by simply divesting part of a previous acquisition that overlapped somewhat in production of similar kinds of evaporated salt. Meanwhile the venerable Morton Salt in Chicago has been scarfed up and Stone Canyon's fairly predictable next move there was to lay off 40% of Morton's headquarters employees.


In October, Stone Canyon Industries announced it had struck a deal to buy K+S Americas salt business, including Morton Salt, for $3.2 billion. But the proposed acquisition came under scrutiny by the Justice Department over antitrust concerns that it would substantially lessen competition in the sale of several types of evaporated salt, including round-can table salt, pharmaceutical-grade salt and bulk evaporated salt.

Stone Canyon, which previously acquired Kansas-based salt producer Kissner for $2 billion in 2020, agreed to divest of its US Salt subsidiary, including a New York salt refinery, to win Justice Department approval in April for the Morton Salt acquisition.

More on the divestiture considerations:


Mind you, since the Morton piece of the acquisition was left intact, and the overlap with US Salt not a perfect match, concerns about lessened competition in production of evaporated salt may still become an issue for commercial food processors, pharmaceutical supply chains and the buyers of bulk evaporated salt for inclusion in products lke animal feeds. And then there's your table salt... sure to rise in price since grocery profit margins are notoriously thin and every penny in new cost of goods gets looked at as to whether the consumer can be asked to pick up that penny. Heh, but who's gonna notice 5c more on a pound of salt, since it's not something you buy every day. Pity the producers of pickles though, they're gonna pay through the nose.
 
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