Wie “Superstar-Firmen” und der “Amazon-Effekt” die Wirtschaft verändern

Schon vor einiger Zeit haben wir bei bto die Frage diskutiert, ob es eine Strukturverschiebung gibt, die aller historischer Erfahrung zum Trotz nachhaltige Überrenditen von Unternehmen erlaubt. Fehlender Wettbewerb, stabile Oligopole und deshalb wenig Lohndruck und vor allem nachhaltig hohe Bewertungen an den Börsen:

Was steckt hinter den hohen Margen der US-Unternehmen?

Tech ist keine Blase – solange es keine Gegenreaktion gibt

Nun geht ein interessanter Artikel in der New York Times erneut auf das Thema ein:

  • “Two of the most important economic facts of the last few decades are that more industries are being dominated by a handful of extraordinarily successful companies and that wages, inflation and growth have remained stubbornly low. Many of the world’s most powerful economic policymakers are now taking seriously the possibility that the first of those facts is a cause of the second — and that the growing concentration of corporate power has confounded the efforts of central banks to keep economies healthy.” – bto: Die veränderte Wirtschaftsstruktur macht damit die Geldpolitik weniger wirksam.
  • “(…) economists are discussing questions like whether monopsony — the outsize power of a few consolidated employers — is part of the problem of low wage growth. They are looking at whether the superstar firmsthat dominate many leading industries are responsible for sluggish investment spending. And they’re exploring whether there is an Amazon Effect in which fast-changing pricing algorithms by the online retailer and its rivals mean bigger swings in inflation.” – bto: Ich halte das für sehr wahrscheinlich. Es ist aber auch eine Folge des Versagens der Anti-Trust-Behörden.
  • “Central bankers (…) are wrestling more intensely with the possibility that the details of how companies compete and exert power matter a great deal for the overall well-being of the economy. (…) For example, if concentrated corporate power is depressing wage growth, the Fed may be able to keep interest rates lower for longer without inflation breaking out. If online retail makes prices jump around more than they once did, policymakers should be more reluctant to make abrupt policy changes based on short-term swings in consumer prices.” – bto: Dann hätten wir nach dem deflationären Schock des Markteintritts von China und Co. auch noch den Effekt der Technologiefirmen, die uns ermöglichen, billiges Geld in alle Ewigkeit fortzuschreiben und damit alle Blasen aufzupumpen, die man noch aufpumpen kann.
  • “(…) more of the investment of modern corporations takes the form of intangible capital, like software and patents, rather than machines and other physical goods. That may be a reason low interest rate policies by central banks over the past decade didn’t prompt more capital spending, (…).” – bto: Und bei den alten Industrien gibt es ebenfalls wenig Interesse zu investieren. Denn warum sollte man es auch tun? Es gibt ja keinen Wettbewerb (-snachteil).
  • “Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist, argued that monopsony power is most likely part of the apparent puzzle of why wage growth is low. By his estimates, wages should be rising 1 to 1.5 percentage points faster than they are, given recent inflation levels and the unemployment rate. When workers have few potential employers to choose from, he said, they may have less ability to demand higher pay, and it becomes easier for employers to collude to restrict pay, whether through explicit back-room deals or more subtle signaling.” – bto: wobei es in Zukunft spannend wird. Was wiegt mehr: der demografische Rückgang oder die Automatisierungsrevolution?
  • “But he said monetary policy might have some power to reduce that effect. By keeping interest rates low and allowing the labor market to strengthen, employers may eventually find they have no choice but to increase worker pay.” – bto: Ich halte das für einen Freibrief zur Produktion von Blasen und Finanz-/Schuldenkrisen. Völlig falsch.
  • “(…) Harvard economist Alberto Cavallo, presents evidence that the algorithms used by Amazon and other online retailers, with their constantly adjusting prices, may mean greater fluctuations in overall inflation in the event of swings in currency values or other shocks.” – bto: Das könnte auch zur naheliegenden Frage führen: Sollten die Notenbanken überhaupt noch eingreifen oder es besser einfach geschehen lassen?
  • “There is an almost tribal dimension that limits these conversations about how corporate concentration might affect the overall economy and policy. People who study industrial organization or antitrust policy are, for the most part, in a different clan from those who spend their time talking about bond yields and inflation targets. But card-carrying members of that macroeconomic tribe are starting to see that they may have plenty to learn about some of the inner workings of the economy: the details of how businesses compete, set prices and hire people.” – bto: Ist es nicht beruhigend, dass die Notenbanker jetzt anfangen, sich damit zu beschäftigen? Nachdem sie 30 Jahre lang nur die Notenpresse kannten?
  • “With the Federal Reserve facing the challenge of an American economy that is by many measures at a healthy cruising speed, yet still falling short in its capacity to generate well-paying jobs for millions of people, people at this particular gathering in Jackson Hole could agree that it’s not enough to view the economy using high-altitude data. The details of what is happening in individual industries and markets matter a lot more than it once seemed.” – bto: Und mit diesem Blindflug versuchte man jahrzehntelang die Wirtschaft fernzusteuern … Das konnte doch nur zu Überschuldung  und Krise führen.

nytimes.com: “Are Superstar Firms and Amazon Effects Reshaping the Economy?”, 25. August 2018