Mostly nitpicking but want to add that not all monopolies are bad because they jack up prices. That’s the whole argument about Amazon and WalMart with lowering prices past the point of sustainable commerce - loss leaders and the like. You can kill industries by undercutting pricing and while that’s good for “consumers”, it’s a monopolistic practice that has downstream impacts through the chain of production that is ultimately bad for people, bad for choice.

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There's a few separate issues here...

WalMart's hard-nosed approach with suppliers and workers means they can (profitably) sell goods at lower prices than small local firms, driving them out of business. That's how they created a monopoly in some geographies, but it isn't abusing their monopoly.

Using loss leaders to undercut competitor and a superior bank balance to sustain that loss-making line long enough for the competitor to go out of business is anti-competitive (but not monopolistic). The UK has laws preventing a business from cross-subsidising between product areas to prevent this practice. (UK supermarkets frequently sell gasoline at break-even prices to entice you to shop there, but have to be very careful not to go lower)

Amazon has the ability to know what products are popular, decide to sell that product themselves, and then either de-list or under-promote the original product. (And this has happened). That is defiantly abusing their (near) monopoly on online retail.

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Fair point. I’ll say that sustained anti-competitive behavior is a luxury that only monopolies and incredibly capitalized VC-funded startups have, and it distorts market-based economies into capital-accumulation-based economies. Reading Thiel’s 0-1, monopolistic and anti competitive are more or less the same in terms of end goals.

I don’t think we are fundamentally disagreeing though - nitpick 1 is that monopolies can abuse position to lower prices with negative repurchasing in addition to raising prices to hurt consumers. Nitpick 2 is that there is a difference between legally defined prosecutable monopolistic behavior and legally permissible but still grossly anti competitive behavior (is unsustainable pricing the equivalent of war of attrition tactics? Should there be a Geneva convention of capitalistic behaviors?).

While the legal lines are always tremendously important, is it not that (A) they’re far behind - see the Yale paper on Amazon and monopolistic behavior or anything Matt Stoller has been writing, and (B) both monopolies and attribution based competitive behavior are natural byproducts of capital-accumulation-based market power?

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The Moritz piece was the mask off moment for me. The issue with SV “culture” is that it considers itself as a holistic enlightened path whereas it’s chronically one dimensional and more rabidly capitalist than Wall St.

At least in finance, once you “make it” you spend your time buying art and attempting to act cultured. There’s an acknowledgment that there’s something else out there beyond making money.

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Nuanced, well-written piece. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

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