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In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space.
Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth, it generates meager profits, choosing to price below-cost and expand widely instead.
Nevertheless, a segment of shareholders believed that by dumping money into advertising and steep discounts, Amazon was making a sound investment that would yield returns once e-commerce took off.
Each quarter the company would report losses, and its stock price would rise.
This analysis reveals that the current framework in antitrust—specifically its equating competition with “consumer welfare,” typically measured through short-term effects on price and output24—fails to capture the architecture of market power in the twenty-first century marketplace.Amazon’s closest encounter with antitrust authorities was when the Justice Department sued other companies for teaming up against Amazon.23 It is as if Bezos charted the company’s growth by first drawing a map of antitrust laws, and then devising routes to smoothly bypass them.With its missionary zeal for consumers, Amazon has marched toward monopoly by singing the tune of contemporary antitrust. In particular, it traces the sources of Amazon’s growth and analyzes the potential effects of its dominance.The Note closes by considering two potential regimes for addressing Amazon’s power: restoring traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties.
I am deeply grateful to David Singh Grewal for encouraging me to pursue this project and to Barry C.
Due to a change in legal thinking and practice in the 1970s and 1980s, antitrust law now assesses competition largely with an eye to the short-term interests of consumers, not producers or the health of the market as a whole; antitrust doctrine views low consumer prices, alone, to be evidence of sound competition.