How to Educate Yourself on Monopoly Power

I get asked quite frequently for more information on monopolies and concentrated financial power. Books, papers articles, and so forth. So here you go. This is a list of books and articles on the history of monopoly power and its effects. Some of them are written by Open Markets people, some are written by friends of ours, some are written by people we admire.

Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction, by Barry C. Lynn. The best introduction to America’s monopoly problem, and its political origins.

Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizen’s United, by Zephyr Teachout. Details how concentration of economic power is the single biggest factor in the corruption of U.S. democracy.

Listen Liberal: What Ever Happened to the Party of the People, by Thomas Frank. How the plutocrats got hold of the Democratic Party.

The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business, by Christopher Leonard. The best single industry study of the rise and triumph of monopoly in America.

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, by Simon Johnson and James Kwak. A primer on how financiers took control of the U.S. economy, and how they wield their power.

Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food, by Frederick Kaufman. An easy-to-follow explanation of how Wall Street traders manipulate America’s farm economy for their own private ends.

Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet, by Jeffrey Rosen. A short, elegant biography of the most important antimonopolist in America in the 20th Century.

Democracy Against Domination, K. Sabeel Rahman. An exploration of how to use antimonopoly to restore democracy in America.

The Radicalism of the American Revolution, by Gordon Wood. Details the nature of the liberty and dignity the Founders fought to achieve for themselves and their children.

The Age of Roosevelt, 1919 to 1936 (3 Volumes), Arthur Schlesinger Jr. It’s long, but for anyone who wants to know the true democratic nature of the New Deal’s political economy, this is the work to read.

Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy, by Michael Sandel. Perhaps the best history of the evolution of the democratic-republican philosophy in the 19th and mid 20th centuries.

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin. An important book on the threat that digital platforms pose to our cultural commons.

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer A book that explores the intellectual origins of big tech and the future these platforms have in store for us.

The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan One of the earliest books to examine the power wielded by tech platform monopolists.

ARTICLES AND REPORTS:

ON AMERICA’S MONOPOLY PROBLEM

Killing the Competition: How the New Monopolies are Destroying Open Markets,” by Barry Lynn, Harper’s, February 2012.

How Post Watergate Liberals Killed their Populist Soul: In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system,” by Matt Stoller, The Atlantic, Oct 24, 2016.

The Decline of Black Business: This article by Brian Feldman in the Washington Monthly is an important piece on how the anti-monopoly tradition and independent black owned businesses intersected with the Civil Rights movement and racial justice.

“Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” by Lina Khan, Yale Law Review: This is both a great discussion of the Chicago School intellectual revolution and a useful way to understand the legal structure of Amazon.

Who Broke America’s Jobs Machine: Why Creeping Consolidation is Crushing American Livelihoods,” by Barry C. Lynn and Phillip Longman, Washington Monthly, March 2010.

How American Became Uncompetitive and Unequal,” by Lina Khan and Sandeep Vaheesan, The Washington Post, June 13, 2014.

Bloom and Bust: Regional Inequality is Out of Control. Here’s How to Fix It,” by Phillip Longman, Washington Monthly, November 2015.

“The Real Reason Middle America Should Be Angry: Like many “flyover” cities, St. Louis’s decline is not mainly a story of deindustrialization, but of decisions in Washington that opened the door to predatory monopoly,” by Brian Feldman, Washington Monthly, March 2016.

Bigger Corporations Are Making You Poorer: This story is about a paper by economist Simcha Barkai on lower bargaining power for workers and a reduced income share per worker of roughly $14k a year since the mid-1980s, by Matt Stoller, Vice

The Return of Monopoly: This New Republic article from July of 2017 is an overview of the problem of monopoly in America. It’s written by Matt Stoller, in The New Republic.

Free Markets Killed Capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 Percent’s Sick Triumph Over Us All,” Interview with Barry C. Lynn, by Thomas Frank, Salon, June 29, 2014.

Antitrust: A Missing Key to Prosperity, Opportunity, and Democracy,” by Barry C. Lynn, Demos, 2013.

Notorious Big: Why the Spectre of Size Has Always Haunted American Politics,” Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker, March 28, 2016.

ON SPECIFIC MARKETS:

Sticker Shock: Why Are Glasses So Expensive,” Leslie Stahl, 60 Minutes, CBS, October 7, 2012.

Chickens.” John Oliver, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, HBO, May 17, 2015.

Time to Fight Health Care Monopolization,” Phillip Longman, Democracy Journal, Fall 2016.

“Obama’s Game of Chicken: The untold story of how the administration tried to stand up to big agricultural companies on behalf of independent farmers, and lost,” Lina Khan, Washington Monthly, November 2012.

Big Beer, A Moral Market, and Innovation,” by Barry C. Lynn, Harvard Business Review, December 26, 2012.

Breaking the Chain: The Antitrust Case Against Wal-Mart,” Barry C. Lynn, Harper’s, July 2006

Amazon Must Be Stopped: It’s Too Big. It’s Cannibalizing the Economy. It’s Time for a Radical Plan,” Franklin Foer, The New Republic, October 9, 2014.

Cheap Words: Amazon is Good for Customers. But is it Good for Books?” George Packer, The New Yorker, February 17, 2014.

Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities,” Olivia LaVecchia and Stacy Mitchell, Institute for Local Self Reliance, November 2016.

How Detroit Went Bottom Up: Outsourcing has made the automotive industry so co-dependent and fragile that one company’s downfall is every company’s concern,” Barry C. Lynn, American Prospect, September, 2009.

ON TRADE AND THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM:

The New China Syndrome: American Business Meets its New Master,” Barry C. Lynn, Harper’s, November 2015.

ON WHAT TO DO:

“Reigniting Competition in the American Economy: Keynote Remarks at New America’s Open Markets Program Event,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, June 29, 2016.

Democrats Must Become the Party of Freedom: Re-embracing anti-monopoly will reinvigorate American liberty and beat back Trumpism,” Barry C. Lynn, Washington Monthly, January 2017

Populism with a Brain: Ten Old/New Ideas to Give Power Back to the People,” Barry C. Lynn and Phillip Longman, The Washington Monthly, June 2016.

New Tools to Promote Competition,” by Lina Khan, Democracy Journal, Fall 2016.

Curbing the New Corporate Power,” K Sabeel Rahman, Boston Review, May 2015

The Real Enemy of Unions: Why organized labor should join with entrepreneurs to bust the corporate monopolies threatening them both,” Barry C. Lynn, Washington Monthly, May 2011.