Google, Facebook, Amazon And The Future Of Antitrust Laws

Google, Facebook, Amazon And The Future Of Antitrust Laws

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In July 2019, the U.S. government targeted America’s
biggest tech companies. The Department of Justice and the FTC
appear to be looking at whether the leading tech platforms have used improper
means to acquire monopoly positions or to exclude promising rivals
from contesting their position. Translation – Are these
companies too big? And did they get that way illegally? These questions fall under a set of laws
that until recently had faded from the public spotlight. Antitrust has gone from being this
completely sleepy backwater discipline that was just a few people talked about to
being very much in the public news. We’ve really started to see a lot of
discussion about does there need to be more enforcement of antitrust? Are we really enforcing these laws and using
these tools in the way that they were intended to be? And it’s not just tech. Antitrust concerns have arisen around other
industries that are also dominated by a few huge companies
like domestic airlines, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and beer. There’s always this kind of balance between
the desire for an efficient economy and this fear of what happens to to
society, to democracy, to the interests of consumers, the interest of labor. So we asked these experts to
explain what is antitrust anyway. The first federal antitrust law was passed
in 1890 and two more followed in 1914. The antitrust laws started out as being
against power and making it easier for little firms to get into the market and
survive, as well as to cater to consumers. They sought to prevent companies from getting
too big or engaging in unfair practices like colluding to fix prices. They also created an agency
to enforce those standards. So the antitrust laws were a reaction
to the industrialization of the late 19th century because of the perception that there
was too much economic power over specific industries being concentrated
in a few hands. People like John D Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan. Rockefeller and Morgan were part of
a movement that thought bigger businesses were better businesses and
monopolies were the best. Its followers believed in consolidating whole
industries into single firms or grouping firms into trusts. From just 1895 to 1984, thousands of
manufacturing firms merged into just 157 corporations. Morgan consolidated the steel, railroad,
shipping and electricity industries and inspired copycats in tobacco, rubber,
film production and more. But it was Rockefeller’s Standard Oil
Company that became the first blockbuster antitrust case. Rockefeller combined dozens of state-based
companies like Standard Oil Company of Ohio, of Nebraska, etc. into one. By 1984, Standard Oil controlled 91 percent
of oil production and 85 percent of sales. Following a searing exposé of
Standard Oil’s business practices by journalist Ida Tarbell, President Teddy
Roosevelt’s administration filed an antitrust suit against the
company in 1986. After a five year court battle, the
Supreme Court ordered the breakup of Standard Oil. Standard Oil was divested back into the
local companies that had formed Standard Oil in the first place. Over time, of course, we get these
companies beginning to compete with each other. We have new companies entering the
market and we get a much more competitive oil industry. But that took a long time to happen. Innovation boomed and the overall value
of the industry actually increased, as did Rockefeller stock in
the new companies. A flurry of antitrust activity followed. By the end of the 1910s. Most of the major trusts had been broken
up or regulated in some other way under antitrust law. But this aggressive approach ended
when World War One began And after the U.S. entered into the war, the view was,
boy, we just cannot afford to have antagonism between the federal
government and big business. This shift highlights a
key theme of U.S. antitrust law: How it’s enforced or
whether it’s enforced at all depends heavily on the political will of
the agencies, courts and president. The guidance in the laws is more than
any other area of federal law, exceedingly broad and in many instances vague. There is a difference between having a law
on the books and having a law actually be enforced. The regulatory agencies can do with
the law what they want. President Franklin D. Roosevelt briefly revived aggressive antitrust
enforcement to energize the struggling Depression era economy. But he, too, put it aside
when World War 2 began. This time, though, the end of the
war sparked the most aggressive period of antitrust enforcement to date. The stage had been
set in Hitler’s Germany. By 1933, when Hitler comes to
power, the German economy is extremely concentrated. We have these big monopolies
and chemicals and steel and electricity and coal and
other important industries. Then Secretary of War Kenneth Royall
put it bluntly in a report That “these monopolies soon got control of
Germany, brought Hitler to power and forced virtually the whole
world into war.” The United States was very concerned
that our country could tip towards fascism or communism if we didn’t
have and nurture a competitive, diverse society. Congress passed another act in 1950
to strengthen the mandate against mergers. This, combined with an extremely liberal Supreme
Court, kicked off the era of peak antitrust, one where the FTC and
the courts became extremely skeptical of any mergers that resulted in a
larger market share for one company. Really, in the 50s and 60s, many, many
cases were brought to stop mergers, even mergers that today we think of
would not be problematic at all. The blockbuster case of
this era was AT&T. AT&T had been the sole supplier of
phone service in the US for decades. The Department of Justice filed
an antitrust suit in 1974. And ultimately in 1982, that case was
settled in the Reagan administration with a decree that broke up AT&T. And the idea was to create
a more competitive telecommunications market by infusing competition into those markets. That sounds like a success for
supporters of aggressive antitrust, right? Strictly speaking, it was. AT&T’s decades long monopoly
over phone service ended. But it also marked the end of the
aggressive antitrust era and the beginning of the standard we have today. Let’s back up a bit. A conservative backlash against extremely
aggressive antitrust enforcement had been brewing as early as the 1950s,
driven by scholars at the University of Chicago. They argued that big mergers could
provide better efficiency and innovation. So there was a big movement to
cut back the antitrust laws that would say firms need a lot of room
to do what they want to do. Instead, these scholars proposed that antitrust
suits only be brought against businesses if their actions
had caused consumer harm. For example, if two businesses merged and
caused products to get more expensive or worse, or if the new company
somehow stifled innovation in the industry, the Supreme Court adopted this
consumer welfare standard. In the 1979 case, Reiter vs. Sonotone. It fairly abruptly sort of announces
that it’s shifting its direction and accepting that this so-called consumer welfare
standard is the goal of antitrust law. And when Americans voted conservative Ronald
Reagan into office the following year, the fate of aggressive
antitrust enforcement was sealed. Reagan campaign was based on the fact
that government had become too intrusive into business. So this sentiment built up and
Reagan ran on the ticket to get government off
the back of business. And that won the day. That sentiment won the day. And the next few
decades of antitrust enforcement. The Department of Justice did bring
a size-based antitrust case against Microsoft in the late 1990s, which we’ll
explore in another video along with its effects on the current
antitrust investigations of Big Tech. But for the most part, antitrust enforcement
based on the size of companies has been essentially dormant for
the last 40 years. And I think you saw antitrust be consumed
with or be captured by a very fundamental free market ideology that caused regulators
to put a heavy thumb on the scales, in favor of business, in
favor of letting mergers go through, in favor of letting monopolies
do whatever they wanted. This is obvious if we zoom out and
look at some key data on the U.S. economy. Between 1982 and 2012, market
concentration across all of these industries increased sometimes by triple
digit percentages between 1996 and 2016. The number of companies on the
stock market fell by half also since 1996. The FTC has challenged fewer and
fewer proposed mergers that would leave only five or six major
firms in an industry. Which is why there are now only
four major domestic airlines, four major telecommunications carriers, three major drugstores
and two major beer retailers. What we had at the turn of the 19th
century and we have again now is companies that have a significant influence
over the entire economy. This has experts wondering, is this
another inflection point for antitrust law? Should these laws once again be skeptical
of business size or should they leave these businesses alone? It feels like this is the first time
in 40 years that antitrust has a real moment to decide what it’s going to
be for the next 40 years. At times, I think that antitrust is portrayed
as this place and magic bullet, so to speak, of that if we just break
up the companies, all these other problems that we’re concerned about
would go away. But there’s no guarantee of that. Antitrust has intervened at different times
to create possibilities for much greater innovation, much
more robust competition. I think there is a broad sense, even in
the US, that something has gone wrong in these markets that something
needs to change. One way to think about it
is between the ends. On one side that we have aggressive antitrust
from the other side that don’t have antitrust. There’s a big spectrum and we
probably want to find some point on the spectrum. You will never be the perfect point. But to be on the spectrum is better
than being when one of the ends.

100 thoughts on “Google, Facebook, Amazon And The Future Of Antitrust Laws

  • Diadlo Post author

    Disney now owns the top 2 franchises to the box-office and antitrust didn't stop anything.
    Avengers and Avatar are now both in Disney's courtyard.

  • Ricoh Vegas Post author

    I think my biggest concern with breaking up these big tech companies is that it opens the door to foreign acquisitions of these ‘broken’ companies.

    Imagine if Facebook or Google gets broken apart, and gets bought out by the likes of Huawei or Xiaomi

  • rjcass33 Post author

    Colluding to fix prices?
    Cough cough pharmaceuticals cough cough!?

  • kiddanger11 Post author

    Yes we need stronger antitrust

  • Enyaw Post author

    They want to go after big tech, but not the airlines or banks? Lol.

  • Mitch Clark Post author

    Break up big tech

  • Sayan guria Post author

    You guys have only 2 beers, shame

  • Junior Wizkid Post author


  • Colin Sutherland Post author

    The clip of JetBlue is unfair because they are not one of the big four domestic carriers

  • Trevor Phillips Post author

    You can use another social network. You have twitter, instagram, and a handful of other.
    You can use any shopping site you want to. They are thousands of sites at which you can shop.
    You can use other search engines. And other products that google has.

  • Motivator Warrior Post author

    Microsoft be like: "💁‍♂️"

  • JosMe Proslo Nije Post author

    This is stupid. This is not antitrust, but anticapitalism!

  • Andrew Burke Post author

    First we must decide: is it antee, or anteye?

  • E PD Post author

    The FBI should just buy a stake in Amazon so they can keep a closer look at the people’s behaviour lol

  • Jay MCC Post author

    What standards lol 😂 Facebook doesn’t seem to have any standards there privacy is not good for users period that’s why they got pay 💰 5 billion. It’s interesting video but I am sure the enforcements work on the sizes of companies.

  • Royfi De La Cruz Post author

    Lex lutherz

  • Maky Post author

    aaah America breaking up companies that have worldly influence while China attempt to accomplish it.
    It is indeed very difficult to predict the future world power.

  • KRYMauL Post author

    Big Tech is getting too big, I would say they are almost to point that they fill the shoes of the Dutch East India Company. I would say that's worrisome, but at the same type unless they dial back google to becoming a software company to make the background operating system for android, tell apple to diversify into multiple companies, tell Amazon to diversify into multiple companies, and tell Facebook to sell all the companies it bought back into the free market.

  • binded2 Post author

    rite aid and walgreens are the same walgreens bought rite aid so make that two

  • Blu Cow Post author

    Xfinity needs to be on this list, shady billing practices.

  • Jonathan Duenas Post author

    10:12 welp no more Sprint it's now Deutsche Telekom aka T-Mobile thus making it 3 major players

  • santiago carreño Post author

    Pornhub should also be included

  • Ehtesham Shahzad Post author

    There is an irony to this video: CNBC is owned by NBC Universal which is owned by Comcast, which is also a monopoly and duopoly for most areas in US, in the cable and broadband business.

  • Luper ionic Post author

  • gary22898 Post author

    This all fake. "FRIUTCAT" uh put you on game

  • Vapor Trails Post author

    When Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren are both talking about it, it is a sign that something is possible. Trump has made noises in that direction as well. This is not a purely right/left issue.

  • mzs114 Post author

    Thanks CNBC, I learn much from these and aljazeera's videos.

  • Kostya Zhang Post author

    Andrew Yang is like Elon Musk of politics, listening to him is like driving a Tesla, you feel the future! #ElonForYang #ElonIsYangGang #Yang2020

  • Aaron Neu Post author

    The real problem is government regulations and unfair taxes. How can a small company paying 20-40 percent in taxes compete against a huge company paying 0 percent in taxes. Added to that is that companies lobby politicians to make it harder for competition to catch up to them ex: Amazon lobbying for 15 $ minimum wage.

  • Colline louis Post author

    first in business

  • TACKLEBERRY Post author

    What’s funny is if you win the game of capitalism you lose

  • Mary-Ellen Wayne Post author

    3:15: McClure's magazine is shown on-screen, highlighted in yellow liner.

    Troy McClure (character) of The Simpsons!

  • Matthew Hutchinson Post author

    The progressive era and the trust buster

  • Brandon C Post author

    who is this narrator? I feel like she is always used on a ton of different channels. free ask jeeves

  • Aurobindo Ghosh Post author

    who made them big? their dumb customers

  • Abdiel Neris Post author

    There can't be healthy competition if Amazon is buying out every small company.

  • Cellphone Dave Post author

    The people need to target lobbyist and corruption. Google the Princeton University study on how wealth affects your voice with your representative. Then ask yourself why you are not outraged for being taxed without equal representation. Get mad! Without representation it is theft.

  • Avneesh Singh Tomar Post author

    All joining hands together for just one purpose…. LOOT PEOPLE.

  • Noneya Business Post author

    Don't forget about the investigations into uber/lyft. Predatory pricing, price fixing, and dumping. All are major antitrust violations

  • KR!RK Post author

    Plot more graphs to show relation between number of companies/market concentration and wealth gap/distribution then maybe more people care about Antitrust laws.

  • The asiatic Lion Post author

    John Newman is hot he can be my professor

  • Diego Braga Post author

    Too much for free-market huh!?

  • Edward Post author

    hahah the 4 horse riders (Amazon, Facebook, Google and Oil) damn the bible was very metaphoric ha and the devil himself DISNEY

  • yo lo Post author

    What bout antitrust laws on healthcare

  • noname22541 Post author

    Really they just thought about that!!!

  • Brandon Lee Sanders Post author

    Google and other large tech companies need to be regulated for censorship

  • Denver Donate Post author

    They will keep doing whatever they want. I mean, they have been recording everyone secretly in their homes and won't be held accountable for that so why would anything change?

  • Squizree Post author

    The irony is that Antitrust laws ARE capitalistic. They promote competition, innovation and a diverse economy.

  • Squizree Post author

    "Barak Orbach"? lol

  • Mr Peco Post author

    u.s. isn't into manufacturing, they buy everything from china and asia
    if a company was losing money because of the consequences of anti-trust, or could gain money
    they would be using those laws more

    the laws are there, but the loss of money or the potential gain in using those laws
    isn't there so no one cares

  • Boots Post author

    anti trust doesn't cater to consumers, it artificially lets less-efficient companies capture more of the market.

  • Syafiq Nizar Post author

    No mention of Microsoft?

    Bill Gates : really?

  • Charles Quinn Post author

    Antitrust action has been mostly dormant in recent years until just now? Lol CNBC is falling apart at the hands of know-nothing millenial interns

  • JUMP23MΔN Post author


  • Feras Angel Post author

    disnay already is eating all the entertainment industry

  • Jex Fre Post author

    That is why in the far future the only restaurant left will be Taco Bell.

  • Dan San Post author

    Democracy antitrust law number one: buy bitcoin

  • Go MGTOW Post author

    An antitrust lawsuit / breakup should automatically apply when any 'one' company exceeds 50% of the overall market. It should never pass 50% domination.

  • miiiikku Post author

    Why not merge all companies into monopolies and merge them with state too. Thats a real capitalist dream.

  • sadman sakib Post author

    Break up big Pharma

  • Tom Buttons Post author

    Why is beer mentioned here? That's an international product and there's loads of foreign competitors at decent prices.

  • jbarkley4938653 Post author

    These laws does not apply to the most powerful companies. 😤

  • Trevor Doge Post author

    Anti trust doesn't even work. Rockefeller just created a bunch of subsidiaries and continued his monopoly under several names.

    The reason the Nazis came into power was due to a bunch of crazed socialists (National Socialist = Nazi).

    This was a great attempt at getting people to vote left of centre though 👍 better luck next time

  • Лев Бонифаций Post author

    Sue Chinese monopolies first.

  • Johnny Schmegma Post author

    In some markets there is global competition, like with smartphones or software or jumbo jets. Maybe our companies have to be large to compete globally

  • Adam Jagger Post author

    Idk about the other industries but more airline competition probably won’t do much as fares are really low and profits while high are only about 10%. That’s not that much

  • HomeFriez007 Post author

    ISPs definitely need to get looked at.

  • RareSox Post author

    Antitrust: exists
    Disney: I'ma gonna end this man's career

  • njack1994 Post author

    Can we also include any company that has accumulated so many brands that they essentially create a false sense of fair and honest competition. Coffee and chocolate industry is also a problem. I mean nestle basically owns the ivory coast. If we are being honest though, capitalism will not create a responsible and moral society if it is opportunistic to live beyond what is sustainable.We are told that if we have enough money will can consume what we please and clearly and evidently that has not been nice to the planet.

  • Black cat photography Post author

    You can't be that big without dirty tricks. And I agree they are way to big and annoying. You can't avoid them. They abuse people's data. Look at Facebook I think it's quite clear.

  • Black cat photography Post author

    Ahhhh finally à big media says it. And if also the médias start telling the true they would killed slowly the fake news

  • Darryl Cheese Post author

    I think anti trust laws should take effect when any business gets too big and powerful (Google, Amazon) that no other companies can form and complete.

  • Micheal O Flaherty Post author

    The Boeing-Airbus duopoly is a case in point. Boeing released a flawed aircraft, the 737 max 8, but will survive because Airbus is at capacity and can't take much more market share. Boeing also could afford to squeeze more out of an old design instead of innovating with a new one.

  • patrick brown Post author

    We still have not drained the swamp – controlled by the " Few"! Opps no spell check sorry about that!

  • Pedro Zurita Post author

    "The Government" should really stop worrying about "protecting the people" and start worrying about the companies that operate on a global scale large enough to contest their sovereign status. Companies now exist with enough social power to sway the ideology of their users and whose mindset is not always in sync with the goverment that "controls" them. Antitrust has a new meaning in this context.

  • No Name Post author


  • Jabid21 Post author

    Love how daddy Comcast and other cable companies are left out.

  • Diego Romero Post author

    Andrew Yang said something like, “A Humane Capitalism is the spectrum we are referring to today, a UBI should be in our lifetime given how long we’ve turned a blind eye to tech innovation removing a need for humans.”

  • DlPhia L Post author

    Didn’t really explain anything. Waste of time

  • anuz timsina Post author

    What about America dominating other countries?

  • Jackie C Post author

    Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this too!
    Great video content. These are the topics that should be taught in high school along with how to balance your financial sheets, so we know how our daily economy affect us and how politics can affect our daily lives.

  • Vaudree Lavallee Post author

    The data-opolies need to be regulated.

  • snowflake melter Post author


  • snowflake melter Post author

    THE TROLL, THE BAAHHHDDD , AND YOU'RE UGLY !! 🤠 , 🐏 , 'n 🐏'r , 👹

  • Mark N. Post author

    He must be a very popular professor.

  • Miguel Pereira Post author

    We should keep an eye on Disney. 40% of market share on movie production is ridiculous

  • Jonni Post author

    had to throw in capitalist propaganda at the 6 minute mark didnt you

  • Colma B Post author

    I would rather Google have a complete monopoly on all Media for the next 100 years than for Comcast to exist another day.

  • tcbobb16 Post author

    can someone explained to me if a major tech company like say Amazon gets break up, how would the USA government or the FTC pick the executives of the new company? let's say AWS Amazon Web Services gets taken away from amazon. let's say forever reason AWS fails and needs to sell then what would happen. I can just see amazon being banned from buying back parts. it would just be Microsoft, google, facebook. trying to buy AWS.

  • Big Chungus Josh Post author

    FAMGA is great

  • Steve Levario Post author

    corporations and lobbying are destroying America

  • Journeyman Post author

    I make money from Google!
    BTW over the years I have been forced to purchase software from Microsoft many, many times?
    Never made any money from Microsoft?
    THEY NEED TO GO AFTER MICROSOFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • gershers Post author

    "in the early 1990s, the auto industry created the US Auto Battery Consortium (USABC) to stifle the development of electric vehicle technology" – copped a patent and limited the techs use … so much for large companies having an interest in innovation.

  • Y T Post author

    AntiTrust worked because they were in control of one product/services. Amazon is actually competing with multiple different companies, and targeting Amazon will only hurt consumers. Whole Foods price will go up, shipping cost will go up, cost of starting business will go up.

  • Dave Black Post author

    Yeah! We wouldn't want to end up with a Brawndo situation!

  • Hindu Goat Post author

    bring back anti-trust…
    except those big monopoly companies like google pay for the politicians election campaigns
    allowing big anonymous donations to political parties and campaigns is what corrupts the system

  • somethingsomethingsomething Post author

    anti-trust doesnt work in an era of globalization. cina isn't going to break up the biggest banks, the biggest tech, the biggest infrastructure companies – and then those can just buy the broken up pieces of the US behemoths because they cant compete or fend off the takeovers. Anti-trust is great but only in a vacuum

  • Ariel Kapell Post author


  • Positive Investing Post author

    With all these fears, it’s the perfect time to load up on shares in companies like FB!

  • A_flying_dutchman [NL] Post author

    You have a clear law that illegalizes monopolies, ENFORCE THEM ALREADY.

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