According to the Biden White House Fact Sheet on Competition: “In fact, research shows that industry consolidation is decreasing advertised wages by as much as 17%.” That’s across a range of industries, but the principle from that would apply to the manufactured housing industry as well as other businesses and professions. That is an easy lead into the second part of the headline for this report and analysis. “This year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stepped up its enforcement of antitrust laws, bringing major lawsuits against companies including Amazon, Google, and Meta. Recent YouGov polling finds that most Americans support antitrust laws and believe that penalties for violating them should be increased,” So said Taylor Orth, Senior Survey Data Journalist for YouGov. What Orth and the YouGov survey revealed is instructive for the manufactured housing industry, its tens of thousands of employees, management, and our profession’s consumers in several ways. Per Orth: “The vast majority [of Americans] hold negative views of monopolies, and while most believe there is at least some competition within U.S. industries, more than one-third believe it is not enough. Americans are far more likely to believe stricter antitrust enforcement would help the U.S. economy rather than hurt it — and the same holds for views on the effects of stricter enforcement on consumers, workers, and small businesses. Large companies, on the other hand, are more likely to be thought to be hurt by such laws rather than helped.”
Understanding what’s occurring in America today almost requires that people of all backgrounds fully grasp how oligopoly style monopolization is harmful to you, your career, as well as to businesses or investment interests.
Yesterday, the Masthead on MHProNews published a deep dive into the issue of oligopoly style monopolization in manufactured housing, see that at the link here.
But this article will take a look at the facts and related analysis of the broader picture of the economic and other impacts from oligopoly style monopolization, so that manufactured home industry professionals, consumer advocates, investors, public officials, and others will see why this issue absolutely impacts you and your loved ones.
Part I of this report and analysis are some pull quotes from a post on an award-winning topic from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business entitled: “America Has an Oligopoly Problem.” It happens to have been published two days before the Biden White House Fact Sheet on Competition, which dealt with similar issues.
Part I a) are pull quotes from the Biden White House Fact Sheet on Competition, which goes hand in glove to what the report from Maryland’s Smith Business School said.
Part II of this article are facts and pull quotes from the 11.6.2023 YouGov survey on American views about monopolies.
Part III of today’s report will be additional information that will include reminders why this matters to manufactured home industry employees. This segment of today’s report and analysis will also examine why smaller to mid-sized employers should not fear, but rather should embrace the battle for stronger antitrust enforcement.
Part IV is the Daily Business News on MHProNews equities market movements review for the day that includes a timesaving and insight generating left-right headlines from mainstream news recap.
With that preface and outline in mind, let’s dive in.
Part I – Quotes from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business entitled: “America Has an Oligopoly Problem.”
The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland published an article on 7.6.2021 entitled “America Has an Oligopoly Problem.” The subtitle was: “Here’s What Happens to the Economy – And Your Wallet – When America’s Biggest Firms Become Too Big.” It said in part about oligopolies that there is growing bipartisan support to deal with the issue and “that’s a big deal, says Maryland Smith’s Bruno Pellegrino. His research proves that America has an oligopoly problem.”
“Pellegrino’s research, which just won a best-paper award from the Western Finance Association, looks at the rise of oligopolies in the United States.”
“When there are fewer firms competing in the marketplace consumers find it less easy to switch away from any particular product,” said Pellegrino. “This allows firms to charge higher prices, to the detriment of consumer welfare – that is oligopoly power.”
Pellegrino computes the toll on the U.S. economy. He estimated that this “deadweight loss” increased to 11% in 2017, up from 8.5% in 1997. According to information on the university’s website at this link here: “Pellegrino’s model is the first to give economists a picture of both these measures across multiple industries, allowing them to measure the cost of oligopoly to consumers. Pellegrino’s findings clearly show that U.S. companies are not producing as much value for the consumer as they could, and part of the reason is the lack of competition.”
The increasing deadweight loss shows the United States is not as prosperous as it could be, says Pellegrino. “When firms have fewer competitors, they withhold production and charge higher prices.” Per the award-winning research by Pellegrino, the higher the oligopoly power of firms, the bigger the share of surplus that goes to the producers as opposed to the consumer. This is a phenomenon previously explored by MHProNews in a variety of reports from within and beyond manufactured housing (see further below).
“Oligopoly also affects the distribution of income” Pellegrino says. “When oligopoly power increases, a larger share of GDP goes to capital owners, and a smaller one goes to workers. Hence, oligopoly has major implications for inequality.”
“In a nutshell, the analysis suggests that American consumers are capturing a smaller slice of a shrinking pie,” Pellegrino stated.
Part I a) A Subject Where the Biden Administration has a Valid Point, But…
Just days after the post on the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on “America Has an Oligopoly Problem,” on 7.9.2021 the Biden White House published a fact sheet that MHProNews has referenced several times. The reason for doing so? Because while there are arguably problematic elements to that political document, by separating the wheat from the chaff in it, it made several important points.
First, some of the proverbial ‘wheat’ from that fact sheet. Then, the flip side of that White House claims will follow. The bold in what follows is added by MHProNews for emphasis, but the text is as in the original.
- For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating. In over 75% of U.S. industries, a smaller number of large companies now control more of the business than they did twenty years ago.
- That lack of competition drives up prices for consumers. As fewer large players have controlled more of the market, mark-ups (charges over cost) have tripled.
- Barriers to competition are also driving down wages for workers. When there are only a few employers in town, workers have less opportunity to bargain for a higher wage and to demand dignity and respect in the workplace. In fact, research shows that industry consolidation is decreasing advertised wages by as much as 17%.
Stop there for a moment for some quick analysis.
Manufactured home professionals working for a company of whatever size would likely feel good if they got a raise of as much as 17 percent for the same work that they are currently doing. While it may seem like that boost in earnings might hurt smaller businesses, the reality is that if too limited competition market imbalances were corrected, the higher wages would be absorbed and passed on through the price of goods and services like any other business cost. Indeed, the case can be made that smaller businesses would routinely be earning more, so they readily could afford to pay more, besides having the ability to adjust their costs of business accordingly.
That said, back to some pull quotes from the Biden White House Fact Sheet.
In total, higher prices and lower wages caused by lack of competition are now estimated to cost the median American household $5,000 per year.
Inadequate competition holds back economic growth and innovation. The rate of new business formation has fallen by almost 50% since the 1970s as large businesses make it harder for Americans with good ideas to break into markets. There are fewer opportunities for existing small and independent businesses to access markets and earn a fair return. Economists find that as competition declines, productivity growth slows, business investment and innovation decline, and income, wealth, and racial inequality widen.”
While all that sounds great, what is the “but” in the subheading for Part I a) above? It is this. It remains to be seen if the Biden Administration’s so-called efforts have made any difference, beyond awareness. Indeed, in as much as ‘team Biden’s campaign’ was funded to a great extent by big business interests, it seems unlikely that they will seriously bite the hand that feeds them.
That said, the motivations for potentially more antitrust efforts in or beyond our industry are usefully outlined in that White House Fact Sheet and are supported by Pellegrino’s findings too.
Part II – From YouGov Survey on 11.6.2023 – Results
As part of our new deeper dive into oligopoly style monopolization in manufactured housing linked here, was this graphic below.
But going to the source of antitrust advocate Matt Stoller’s insights above and moving directly to quotes and screen captures from the new YouGov survey on antitrust are the following points.
Most Americans (69%) strongly or somewhat support antitrust laws, which were defined in the survey as “government regulations of business aimed at preventing monopolies and ensuring fair competition among companies.” Just 9% strongly or somewhat oppose antitrust laws. While the highest share of Democrats (83%) are supportive of antitrust laws, majorities of Republicans (62%) and Independents (60%) are also in favor.”
While one in three Americans aren’t sure whether antitrust laws are too strict or not strict enough, people who do have an opinion are more likely to say current laws are too lenient. A total of 36% of Americans say the laws aren’t strict enough, while 24% say they’re about right and 6% say they’re too strict.”
What is missing in the 11.6.2023 YouGov survey is a probe of public views on the topic of oligopoly style monopolization. More on that further below. But that point noted, the following is also of interest.
When asked broadly, most Americans (67%) say it is a bad thing for a single company to dominate a market; just 6% say it is good, 16% say neutral, and 11% aren’t sure.
Small companies are generally viewed by Americans as superior to big companies when it comes to their ethics, their treatment of employees, the quality of their products, and their impact on the environment. When it comes to consumer prices, however, Americans say by a margin of two to one big companies charge less than small companies.”
The next segment will be of particular interest in how it could be applied to manufactured housing. There is no housing or manufactured housing question in this part of the survey. That noted, less than one in four thought there was “enough” competition in general, meaning the vast majority don’t agree with that viewpoint.
While most Americans (65%) say there is at least some competition between companies within U.S. industries, just 23% say there is a “a lot” of competition. How much competition they think there is depends on the industry.
Some of the 10 industries asked about are viewed as highly competitive, particularly the restaurant industry (56% say it has a lot of competition) and the retail industry (47%). Others, such as the pharmaceutical industry (26%) and oil and gas industry (25%) are less likely to be seen as very competitive. Despite recent antitrust cases involving tech companies, many Americans say the tech industry is highly competitive (38%), though somewhat fewer say the same about the social media industry specifically (27%).”
As Orth noted for YouGov, there is broader agreement among those surveyed that stricter enforcement of antitrust laws could yield more competition and would benefit the economy. That would be good for consumers and small businesses and would not be as good for big businesses. Note that is the obvious implications from the work of Pellegrino and the portions of the White House Fact Sheet on Competition cited herein above.
Here is how Orth and YouGov’s results framed it.
There is more consensus on the effects of stricter antitrust enforcement, with nearly half of Americans believing that more enforcement would help each of the following: consumers, small businesses, workers, and the U.S. economy as a whole. Far fewer say more enforcement would hurt each of these. More Americans say that stricter enforcement would hurt rather than help large companies.”
The next segment of their survey briefly notes the shift over time in antitrust enforcement notions. More on this further below in Part III, but let’s note for now the kind of question that is not found below in this survey. How would people have responded if the question was the importance of keeping big businesses and their influence over government and politics in check as a reason for stricter enforcement of antitrust laws? There are reasons to believe that the public is not too keen on the power of ‘big,’ see the New York Times poll explored in depth in the report linked here. That said, diving back into Orth’s narrative on YouGov’s results.
The standards and interpretations of antitrust law have shifted at various points in U.S. history. When the first federal antitrust law was passed in 1890, regulators were primarily focused on how company behaviors would affect the amount of competition within industries. During the late 20th century, emphasis shifted to effects on consumer welfare, and in particular to short-term effects on consumer prices. More recently, however, Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan has argued against the consumer welfare standard and suggested a return to earlier approaches focused more broadly on competition, as well as on other factors, such as innovation, the labor market, and long-term prices.
To understand what standards Americans think the government should use in deciding which antitrust cases to take on, the poll asked whether eight factors should be major considerations, minor considerations, or not considered. Of these, Americans are most likely to say that long-term consumer prices (48%) and the quality of goods and services (42%) should be major considerations in antitrust enforcement decisions. Slightly fewer say enforcement should largely be focused on the effects on small businesses (39%), the labor market (38%), the amount of competition (38%), or the variety of consumer choices (36%). Americans are least likely to say major consideration should be given to the effects on short-term consumer prices (31%) or innovation (28%). For each, nearly two-thirds say it should be a major consideration or somewhat of a consideration, and no more than 12% say it should not be a consideration at all.”
One of the most fascinating parts of the YouGov survey is the following, which asks how important competition is for capitalism to succeeded. As with any survey, the way questions are phrased can be significant. It might have been better to ask: ‘how important it is for the free enterprise system for there to be more competition?’ Be that as it may, here is what Orth and YouGov reported. Note that nearly half say the government should break up big tech. There may be reasons to think that result could be low.
The survey also asked Americans the extent to which they agree or disagree with six statements about markets and competition. Around two-thirds strongly or somewhat agree that “capitalism needs competition to work” (70%) and a similar share think that “no company should be too big to fail” (67%). Nearly half (46%) think that “the government should break up big tech.” Smaller shares agree with the ideas that “regulation harms economic growth” (39%) or that “free markets will naturally correct monopolistic tendencies” (37%); for both of these statements, roughly as many disagree as agree.
Part III – Additional Information with More MHProNews Analysis
As disclosures, a look into the history of reports on our site would suggest that MHProNews has editorially been a critic of Joe Biden before he was nominated for the Democratic Party nomination in 2020, was a critic of Biden during his campaign, and has been a critic of Biden since he moved into the White House. There are growing reasons to believe he is corrupt during his time in the Obama-Biden Administration, which raises questions on how much his foreign and domestic policies may be compromised due to potential corruption. That said, MHProNews supported several of the concepts advanced by Lina Khan. The reason for both positions were facts, history, evidence, and applied common sense or ‘logic.’ A report focused on Khan’s thinking on antitrust law enforcement was published by MHProNews on 3.9.2019, well before Biden’s run for office. Biden era policies have arguably been harmful for housing affordability in general, see the report linked below.
There is no known impact during the Biden era slowing or halting consolidation in manufactured housing. To illustrate that point, the following inquiry was put to Bing AI.
> “Is there any known evidence of specific steps taken by the Biden administration to slow or stop any consolidation deal in manufactured housing?”
Bing AI began its response as follows.
That was followed by some Bing statements about Biden era efforts to increase the supply on affordable housing. However, as MHProNews has repeatedly detailed, those efforts have obviously not been measurably useful. If the metric is actual production of more affordable manufactured homes, which is what an increase supply should mean, then production of manufactured housing declined in 2023 and that decline began in 2022.
Manufactured Housing Production Decline Persists in Sept 2023 per Manufactured Housing Association ‘During Affordable Housing Crisis Affordable Manufactured Housing Continues to Underperform’, Facts Analysis –
Antitrust and manufactured housing advocate James A. “Jim” Schmitz Jr. argued in 2022 that merger guidelines were largely a free pass, meaning, hardly an impediment.
The continuing wave of consolidation in manufactured housing demonstrated the accuracy of Schmitz’s remarks. Some examples are shown below.
This question was put to Bing AI.
> “It has been said that a lack of competition in U.S. markets costs consumers and employees alike. Can you share some research and more specific data on those points?”
As MHProNews has previously illustrated in searches like those shown, the topic of monopolization is largely avoided by others in MHVille trade media, other than MHProNews and MHLivingNews.
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To illustrate that point’s ongoing relevance, MHProNews asked Bing AI the following at about 2:49 AM ET on this date.
> “Who in manufactured housing has reported on the topic of monopolization and the need to enforce antitrust laws?”
> “Who in the manufactured home industry has reported on the work of James Schmitz Jr. with the Minneapolis Federal Reserve and his concerns about sabotage monopoly power being exerted to limit manufactured housing?”
That noted, why does these points matter? Because, as has been shown repeatedly herein, and in prior reports like the Walmart Effect or on Amazon that explore the apparently harmful impact of steady consolidation in and beyond manufactured housing, employees and everyday Americans – our customer base – are demonstrably harmed by the trends toward fewer competitors.
‘Dark Triad’ – Researchers Detect ‘5 Key Characteristics of BILLIONAIRES’ – Evidence how Billionaires, Super Wealthy Think Differently Than Most-Takeaways and Lessons; plus Sunday MHVille Weekly Headlines Recap
It is not a contradiction to be pro-consumer, pro-small business, and to be principally opposed to oligopoly or other styles of monopolization.
More pay for employees, more profits for smaller business, more potential for investors, and higher standards of living for most everyone could be the result of strict and routine enforcement of antitrust laws.
MHProNews noted in a prior report on employees of some of the dominating brands at MHI, that evidence indicates that those employees are apparently dissatisfied by the thousands. That happens to be one more known outcome from too much consolidation.
With these facts and evidence now in mind, is it any surprise that ELS owned MHVillage’s MHInsider, or MHI aligned ManufacturedHomes.com, fails to mention monopoly and its harms? It shouldn’t be any surprise at all.
Recall the following remark by the late Sam Zell.
With these insights in mind, this is a good place to segue into perhaps our most rigorous look yet into the problems of apparent violations of antitrust and other laws in the manufactured housing industry. Grab a snack, your favorite beverage, get comfortably focused, and dive in. Why? Because the odds are excellent that the vast majority of readers in manufactured housing – along with millions of others – are directly and/or indirectly harmed by what has happened in manufactured housing in the 21st century.
For editorial clarity, note that MHProNews is not against any amount of money honestly earned. But MHProNews and MHLivingNews has steadfastly been opposed for years to market, political, and legal manipulation by the wealthy and their corporate interests. Again, that’s not a contradiction. We have solidarity with consumers, Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs, employees, and smaller businesses. It is routinely true that the larger the business, the more corrupt, predatory, and cronyism style behavior there tends to be.
That’s why for years MHProNews has taken the stance that numbers of businesses in or beyond our industry need to be broken up, and some prosecuted for apparent felony violations of antitrust and other laws. Stronger enforcement of antitrust laws would not solve all problems in the U.S., but it would be surprising to many how many problems would improve through enforcement of existing laws, including antitrust and RICO laws. See the related reports to learn more. ##
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Part IV- is our Daily Business News on MHProNews stock market recap which features our business-daily at-a-glance update of over 2 dozen manufactured housing industry stocks.
This segment of the Daily Business News on MHProNews is the recap of yesterday evening’s market report, so that investors can see at glance the type of topics may have influenced other investors. Thus, our format includes our signature left (CNN Business) and right (Newsmax) ‘market moving’ headlines.
The macro market move graphics below provide context and comparisons for those invested in or tracking manufactured housing connected equities. Meaning, you can see ‘at a glance’ how manufactured housing connected firms do compared to other segments of the broader equities market.
In minutes a day readers can get a good sense of significant or major events while keeping up with the trends that are impacting manufactured housing connected investing.
Reminder: several of the graphics on MHProNews can be opened into a larger size. For instance: click the image and follow the prompts in your browser or device to OPEN In a New Window. Then, in several browsers/devices you can click the image and increase the size. Use the ‘x out’ (close window) escape or back key to return.
Headlines from left-of-center CNN Business – from the evening of 11.16.2023
- At their annual mega-party, real estate agents on edge over the potential erosion of their commissions
- The Vatican is going all-electric with Volkswagen supplying the cars
- Some young Americans on TikTok say they sympathize with Osama bin Laden
- Starbucks Workers United union members and supporters on a picket line outside a Starbucks coffee shop in New York, US, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Thousands of Starbucks Corp. baristas went on strike Thursday, claiming the coffee chain refuses to fairly negotiate with their union.
- ‘Red Cup Day’ protest will be the largest strike in Starbucks history
- Oil tumbles nearly 6% to four-month lows
- United Auto Workers (UAW) members strike at a General Motors assembly plant that builds the U.S. automaker’s full-size sport utility vehicles, in another expansion of the strike in Arlington, Texas, U.S. October 24, 2023.
- GM rank and file ratify labor deal, ending threat of a renewed strike
- Facebook, Instagram will allow political ads that claim the 2020 election was stolen
- Mortgage rates fall for third straight week, bringing some homeseekers off the sidelines
- Aerial view of Alibaba’s Global Headquarters under construction on June 14, 2023 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.
- Chip war nixes Alibaba’s plan to spin out cloud business
- Tesla and SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk reacts during an in-conversation event with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. Sunak discussed AI with Elon Musk in a conversation that is played on the social network X, which Musk owns.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, Pool)
- Elon Musk agrees with antisemitic X post that claims Jews ‘push hatred’ against White people
- Walmart CEO says food deflation may come soon
- US homebuilder confidence drops for fourth month in a row
- New York lawsuit blames PepsiCo for plastic litter – not people
- Americans are getting ‘ripped off’ by big banks, Robinhood CEO says
- America’s top-selling car will soon come only as a hybrid
- Mars is paying $661 million for Britain’s biggest independent chocolate maker
- The Fed is probably done hiking rates. Cuts are still far off
- China is willing to be a ‘partner and friend’ of the US, Xi tells American CEOs
- Tencent says it stockpiled Nvidia chips but seeks Chinese replacements
- House lawmakers press Apple CEO on reports Jon Stewart’s show was canceled over China concerns
- Rupert Murdoch officially steps down from his media empire, handing over the reins to his son Lachlan
- China says it’s built the world’s fastest internet network
- Anheuser-Busch’s US marketing chief is stepping down as Bud Light sales sink
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