Plus, a look at the FTC's hearings on the state of antitrust.
The Hometown Advantage Bulletin
Unfair Advantage: In The Sun Stacy Mitchell Discuses Amazon and the Future of Local Economies
Charlie Thaxton  |  October 25, 2018

ILSR Co-Director Stacy Mitchell is the subject of The Sun magazine’s featured interview this month. Stacy sat down with writer Tracy Frisch for an extended Q&A. They discuss Amazon’s growing monopoly position, its effect on the labor market and retail sector, and how the company plays the long game to bleed competitors dry.

Amazon is part of a broader trend toward economic consolidation, which has far-ranging implications:

“It’s troubling how many places in this country have been left behind…Corporate mergers have shuttered local plants. Small businesses have disappeared. Farmers are giving up and retiring because they can’t make money in a system controlled by big agribusiness. Banking is no longer local but is consolidated on Wall Street.”

But local communities also have the power to reign in Amazon's dominance, and foster investment in place: 

“The true value of having a vibrant local economy isn’t just in the bottom line of small businesses and the specific jobs they create. It’s also the notion that place matters. A community can nurture active citizens and help people realize their dreams and potential."

Read More of Stacy's Interview Here

In Videos for Bernie Sanders, ILSR's Stacy Mitchell Explains Amazon's Monopoly Power
Zach Freed  | October 5, 2018

In September, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders invited ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell to script and narrate two videos about Amazon for his social media channels. These videos have drawn more than 2 million views across several platforms. In the first, Stacy explains how the problem with the company is far deeper than its wages alone. The larger issue is Amazon’s unrivaled monopoly power. 

Not long after the videos were published, Amazon raised pay in its warehouses to a minimum of $15 an hour. Sanders praised the move, but also told the New York Times that Amazon may still raise antitrust concerns. The issue, he said, was “to what degree they control significant segments of the economy.”

Watch the Videos Here
States Take On the Middlemen Preying On Local Pharmacies
Zach Freed  | September 19, 2018

Independent pharmacies are going out of business. It’s not that they can’t compete. It’s that CVS Health and other pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are taking advantage of their position as middlemen to cut prescription reimbursement rates for local drugstores, while steering patients to their own chain and mail-order pharmacies. The Federal Trade Commission, which should be stopping this predatory behavior, has been sitting on the sidelines, and worse. Earlier this month, it gave CVS the okay to buy the health insurer Aetna. 

Fortunately, states are acting to curb the power of PBMs and ensure local pharmacies can serve their communities. We’ve added a new section to our Policy Guide that rounds up these state policies.

In FTC Hearings, a Few Bright Spots Amid a Pro-Monopoly Status Quo
Zach Freed | November 2, 2018

For the first time in more than 20 years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is holding a series of public hearings on the state of antitrust policy. With corporate concentration at an all-time high, the questions at issue in these hearings could not be more important and urgent.

With a few notable exceptions, the hearings themselves have been largely disappointing. Many of the experts invited to testify have financial ties to large companies, or advocate for the status quo of limited enforcement of our antimonopoly laws. 

But there have been bright spots, including a lively panel about how and why antitrust policy needs to move away from its exclusive focus on consumer welfare.

Read More

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