This paper presents new evidence on two key developments in worldwide antitrust in the last decade: (i) a downturn in the number of cartels detected by competition authorities, alongside (ii) exponential growth in cases of monopolisation/abuse of dominance. Big Tech firms have been, undoubtedly, the main focus of the latter but almost totally absent in the former. These two developments offer perspectives on the description of Monopoly Capitalism as set out by Keith Cowling forty years ago. Superficially at least, this seems to deny the prediction of ever-widening collusion, but, on the other hand, it resonates with the prediction of increasingly unassailable dominant firms. We suggest that the two trends can best be understood by the emergence of the Big Tech giants who have established dominance by exceeding tipping points in many markets. In turn, this leads to an alternative form of collusion —“mutual forbearance” in which firms back away from aggressive competition in the other giants’ areas of strength. Given this dominance, they do not need collusion —put simply, no sizeable rivals are remaining with whom they need to collude.
|Journal||Cambridge Journal of Economics|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 25 Aug 2022|