On What Planet Is the Comcast Merger OK?

Paul Krugman thinks we've gotten too complacent about monopolies

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 17, 2014 12:44 PM CST

(Newser) – Paul Krugman has just two questions about Comcast's deal to buy Time Warner. "First, why would we even think about letting it go through?" he asks in the New York Times. "Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?" The broadband industry is already so non-competitive that once upon a time regulators would have been trying to break up Comcast. "Letting it expand would have been unthinkable," Krugman writes. But the bipartisan antitrust consensus has been eroding for decades—and that's a big problem.

There's ample evidence that "monopoly power has become a significant drag on the US economy as a whole," Krugman explains. Economists have wondered throughout the recovery why corporations weren't reinvesting their record profits. But "this is exactly what you’d expect to see if a lot of those record profits represent monopoly rents." That's because monopolies suppress innovation, as the cable companies aptly demonstrate. "Why upgrade your network … when your customers have nowhere to go?" For more on why the Comcast deal specifically is so bad, click here. Or click for Krugman's full column.

In this combination of Associated Press photos, the a coaxial cable is displayed in front of the Comcast Corp. logo in Philadelphia, and a Time Warner Cable truck is parked in New York.
In this combination of Associated Press photos, the a coaxial cable is displayed in front of the Comcast Corp. logo in Philadelphia, and a Time Warner Cable truck is parked in New York.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
This Feb. 11, 2011 file photo shows the Comcast logo on one of the company's vehicles, in Pittsburgh.
This Feb. 11, 2011 file photo shows the Comcast logo on one of the company's vehicles, in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
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