Friday, July 01, 2016

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your long weekend reading.

- Marc Jarsulic, Ethan Gurwitz, Kate Bahn and Andy Green comment on how corporate monopoly power and rent-seeking produce disastrous public consequences:
Income inequality is rising, middle-class incomes are stagnant, and much of the current economic policy debate is centered on finding ways to counter these trends. A renewed focus on antitrust enforcement could make a significant contribution toward accomplishing this goal.

When firms with dominant market power are able to elevate the prices they charge and earn supra-normal returns—which are economic rents—they simultaneously lower the real incomes of those who buy from them. In other words: The seller benefits when market power elevates the price of hospital care or raises the price of an airline ticket, but the buyer has less income for other needs. Moreover, the tendency of monopolies to restrict output combined with reduced competitive pressure to invest can translate into reduced employment.
(T)here is systematic evidence—ranging from the disconnect of corporate profits and corporate investment to evidence of persistent supra-normal profitability—that points to an increase in rent extraction in the U.S. economy. And while large rent extraction is a primary outcome of unchallenged market power, there are additional and equally undesirable results. For example, the entry of new firms in the market can be blocked; innovation can be stifled; product quality can be degraded; the prices paid to workers and suppliers can be reduced; and influence with government officials can be increased.
- And as part of the CCPA's Monitor issue on the state of Canada's media, Fenwick McKelvey examines the need to make a diverse range of content available rather than allowing large providers to fully define and limit which options can easily be discovered.

- Paul Willcocks points out there's no evidence-based reason for concern that a higher minimum wage will affect the availability of jobs. And PressProgress notes that the corporate interests trying to shout down any improvements to the minimum wage are the same ones trying to use exploitative immigration schemes to lower wages for all workers.

- Michael Laxer highlights how the manufactured problems at Canada Post - with consistent profits deemed insufficient without explanation in order to attack working conditions, and plans for a postal bank which would both raise profits and provide an important public service given short shrift - are only part of the wider hostility against the public sector. 

- Finally, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group sets out the gross deficiencies in the Libs' plans for a security review committee even from the standpoint of basic oversight - to say nothing of the underlying lack of action to protect civil rights from a pervasive surveillance state.

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