Hazlett in Chicago Tribune: Competition Inevitable

Even corporations that gain dominance in the marketplace cannot escape the emergence of competition concludes Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, quoting Professor Thomas Hazlett in his column.

Chapman points out that markets are more complex and dynamic than regulators assume, citing Microsoft's flat stock prices for over a decade, despite the government's fear of its suppression of competition. "Microsoft has seen its market position erode, and it has virtually nothing to do with the antitrust case," says Hazlett.

Who's afraid of mergers? Chicago Tribune, June 21, 2007. by Steve Chapman.

"Bill Clinton's Justice Department tried to break up Microsoft before it enslaved us all, but the feds got far less than they wanted. Microsoft, however, has found out that even a virtual monopoly doesn't guarantee prosperity. Despite controlling more than 90 percent of the market for computer operating systems, the company's stock price has been flat for the last decade--while Apple, which has only a tiny share, has skyrocketed in value since 2003.

"Meanwhile, other companies, notably Google, have trounced the Big Meanie in other areas. Over the last decade, says Thomas Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University, 'Microsoft has seen its market position erode, and it has virtually nothing to do with the antitrust case.'

"The point is not that corporations will never try to suppress competition, as Microsoft is accused of attempting with its new Vista operating system, which it recently agreed to alter in response to a complaint from Google. The point is that they will usually fail, because of the many choices available to the buying public--and that on the rare occasions when they succeed, the success is invariably fleeting.

"Even corporations that gain dominance find that no matter how they connive, they can't escape competition. In a market economy, today's fearsome predator is tomorrow's frightened prey."

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