Tribune. The presidential decree on competition of July 9, 2021 summarizes the political profile of Joe Biden, and opens a new cycle of American political economy, which has alternated for more than a hundred years in favor of the market or its regulation. The objective, through this typically American antitrust tool, is to promote competitiveness, but also fairness in the pursuit of the American dream.
Pragmatic, sensitive to economic realities, Mr. Biden did not fight the liberal turn of the Democratic Party under Clinton and then Obama, but did not break with the wing close to the unions and the workers’ question.
However, his intuition and reason are better aligned today around a simple observation: American capitalism needs to be revitalized and it will be by stimulating competition; the social pact needs to be re-tempered and it will be so in an economy which does not exacerbate the trials of life.
An instrument of social justice
By promoting competition for the benefit of the purchasing power of families, antitrust can be an instrument of social justice. Joe Biden speaks of “middle class foreign policy” because globalization and the digital revolution suggest to explicitly link the social condition of ordinary Americans to the international environment, where the major fact of the last twenty years is the advent of China .
It is this Sino-American tension, exteriorized by Trump, more than the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) and their hold over their users, which determines this choice of antitrust. America must remain at the head of the economic pack in order to continue to be a great power, and for forty years the emulating competition has continued to erode there.
The White House document recalls this in the preamble: “For decades, corporate mergers accelerated. In 75% of American industries, a smaller number of large companies control more than they controlled twenty years ago. (…) In total, higher prices and lower wages caused by lack of competition are now estimated to cost the median US household $ 5,000 per year ”.
An approach beyond the tech industry and GAFA
While Ronald Reagan had used deregulation to reinvigorate a market hampered by bureaucracy, Biden is resorting to the goad of competition. The digital tech industry and its GAFAs in a quasi-monopoly situation call for regulation, as was done after 1900 for oil and then telecommunications.
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