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  • Monopolies. These are companies which have grown so large that their dominating influence on the market pushes out competition from smaller rivals.

  • Monopolies can often harm the prospects for new businesses and force customers to pay higher prices.

  • And that’s bad for any country.

  • America, and many other nations, have fair competition laws that ban monopolies.

  • Yet, as mega corporations seem to get bigger and bigger, you have to wonder, where is the distinction?

  • Are megacorporations becoming monopolies?

  • Were going to explore a few of America’s largest companies.

  • Just to be clear, these companies are not officially considered monopolies, although they have come under scrutiny by the government for encroaching on fair market competition.

  • First let’s talk about Google, a company that made nearly $70 billion dollars last year.

  • It owns companies like YouTube, Android, and Waze. But it’s had numerous run-ins with the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Recently, a leaked FTC report from 2013 revealed just how close the FTC was to bringing charges.

  • Google was accused of illegal practices like promoting its own affiliate websites in google search results and restricting advertisersabilities to use other search engines.

  • The report said, Google’s conduct resulted in "real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets."

  • However, Google ended up settling with the FTC out of court.

  • Monsanto is another huge company that’s been accused of monopolistic practices.

  • They have patents on genetically modified seeds.

  • Farmers are forced to purchase seeds every year instead of replanting, to avoid patent infringement.

  • Monsanto remains the leading supplier of GM seeds, along with other agricultural products such as the weed killer RoundUp, and a number of farming tech firms.

  • According to Food and Water Watch, in America, 80% of corn and 93% of soybeans are grown from Monsanto GMO seeds.

  • Then there’s Microsoft, a company that made almost 90 billion dollars last year.

  • They own brands like Windows, Xbox, Hotmail, and Bing.

  • In the ‘90s, the huge corporation barely escaped being split in two by an antitrust lawsuit brought against them by the government.

  • The lawsuit alleged that Microsoft promoted their own web browser on the Windows operating system and shut out competitors.

  • In 1999, a judge did find that Microsoft "maintained its monopoly power by anticompetitive means."

  • However, this verdict was later overturned.

  • How do some of these gigantic companies escape antitrust regulation?

  • Well, many of the subsidiary brands within the parent company occupy separate markets, as delineated by the FTC.

  • For instance, another corporate giant, Unilever, owns brands in different niche markets, like "ice cream", "premium ice cream" and "super premium ice cream".

  • Also, the mega-corporations have a huge amount of financial and lobbying power.

  • For example, Google was the fifth largest political lobbyist in 2013.

  • And Monsanto has spent almost $70 million dollars since 1998 on agricultural lobbying.

  • Clearly, these giant companies have major influence in their respective markets.

  • And even if they aren’t technically violating antitrust laws yet, they are right on the cusp of what is considered a monopoly.

  • In order to regulate against monopolies, the government has developed what are called antitrust laws.

  • To learn how these laws work, check out our video here.

  • They were called trusts back then, but now we call them monopolies.

  • Monopolies can force consumers to pay higher prices, and make it impossible for other companies to enter the market.

  • Because of their size, they can hurt the economy, and even skirt government regulations.

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Monopolies. These are companies which have grown so large that their dominating influence on the market pushes out competition from smaller rivals.

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