Global Declining Competition

Studies of the evolution of market power since 2000 have focused mostly on publicly traded US firms. This column introduces a new global study that incorporates private firms and decomposes the aggregate effect into intensive and extensive margins. It shows the increase in markups is broad-based across countries and sectors but is driven by a small number of firms.   

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Towards the Giant Three: The Rise and Rise of the Big Three Index Funds

The Big Three index fund managers—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street Global Advisors—hold a significant proportion of the stock of US public companies, and they continue to grow steadily. There is a real prospect that index funds will continue to grow, and that voting in most significant public companies will come to be dominated by the future “Giant Three,” write Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst.  

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Do the Sons of Rich Families Recover After a Large Wealth Shock? Evidence From the US Civil War

One striking feature of many underdeveloped societies is that economic power is concentrated in the hands of very small powerful elites. Why is it the case that some elites show remarkable persistence and even retain their power after major economic disruptions, like civil wars or democratization? The fortune of wealthy white southern households and their sons after the American Civil War is one such case in point.  

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Study: Political Connections Lower Companies’ Tax Rates and Risk of Being Audited

How does the revolving door between Congress and corporate America affect the enforcement of tax policy? A new study examines how tax rates change when firms hire former members of Congress, finding that companies’ tax bills and the probability of being audited decrease markedly when they hire a former legislator.  

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