business news in context, analysis with attitude

Content Guy’s Note: Stories in this section are, in my estimation, important and relevant to business. However, they are relegated to this slot because some MNB readers have made clear that they prefer a politics-free MNB; I can't do that because sometimes the news calls out for coverage and commentary, but at least I can make it easy for folks to skip it if they so desire.

•  From the Washington Post:

"President Biden signed an executive order on Friday taking aim at industries where certain companies dominate the market, kicking off a major new battle between the administration and corporate titans that could reshape aspects of the U.S. economy.

"The executive order — which contains 72 initiatives — is striking in its scope and ambition, challenging the business practices of America’s enormous technology, health-care, agricultural and manufacturing firms while also aiming to shake up smaller sectors dominated by only a handful of companies, such as the hearing aid industry … The effort reflects a major change in Democratic policymaking circles, where a new generation of economists has produced research and advocacy arguing that corporate consolidation has harmed workers and consumers. It also tees up a major challenge for the administration, which is likely to face sharp resistance from businesses that may seek relief through courts that have shown skepticism about competition arguments in the past."

The Post descriBes some of the initiatives proposed:

"It encourages federal regulators to craft new rules on tech companies’ data collection and user surveillance practices, targeting the path that such giants as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon took to dominance … Biden wants to reduce broadband providers’ market control by restoring net neutrality rules … The order also tells the Food and Drug Administration to work toward allowing the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and calls for new rules limiting 'noncompete' agreements, which prevent employees from switching jobs … Other recommendations include compelling airlines to disclose “add-on fees” for seating and baggage and making it easier for consumers to get refunds on flights, as well as requiring banks to let customers take their financial transaction data when they switch to a competitor."

KC's View:

A legitimate and nuanced discussion can be had about these proposals and whether they are legitimately and appropriately consumer/citizen-centric.  I'm not particularly optimistic that such a policy debate can be achieved … and it seems to me that whatever moves are made by the executive and legislative branches, the rubber really will meet the road in the judicial branch of the government.