Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Counter evidence to the consolidation story

The idea that industry is getting more consolidated has been getting a lot of play lately.  In some ways, this does seem to be true.  Clearly, there are network effects, etc., in tech and finance that might lead to consolidation with just a few firms, at least temporarily.

One reason I am skeptical of the notion is that I think it has grown out of the idea that corporations are capturing more income at the expense of labor.  That idea is greatly overblown.  What decline there has been in labor share of income isn't attributable to firms capturing more income.  Of course, I attribute much of it to income going to real estate owners.

I think the mystery this increase in concentration is supposed to solve is that shift in income share.  Since the shift in income share doesn't really amount to much, there isn't much of a mystery to be solved.

To the extent that there has been some consolidation, I suspect that it just hasn't had that much of an effect on the labor/capital income balance.  To the extent that there are higher margins in terms of variable costs (and, taking everything into account, I'm not sure net margins are as high as all that), much of that is flowing to human capital, and since human capital has to buy access to lucrative labor markets through constricted housing markets, much of that flow on to real estate owners.

Anyway, here is another piece of evidence that seems contrary to the consolidation story.  For the past 20 years or so, it is midcap stocks that have led the way, not large caps.  If there is consolidation, this would suggest that it is consolidation that is related to creative destruction and market reorganization.

1 comment:

  1. I kind of like the idea of gov bullying the leading halls of genius into spending on basic research, as 20th C gov prodded ATT to spend big on science fairs at Bell Labs. I suspect the market undershoots optimal levels, and I suspect the gov's basic research organs r not as effective as equivalently big private sector efforts would b