Is bigness bad? Elizabeth Warren thinks so. She has put #BreakUpBigTech at the center of her campaign for the presidency. And in this new age of populism, it has a nice ring to it.
But why? Traditional antitrust law focuses on protecting the consumer. It’s impossible to argue that companies like Amazon and Google have limited consumer choice. Rather, they have done the opposite—giving consumers more price transparency, more choice and more options than they have ever had before.
Instead, Warren’s argument for breaking up the big tech companies requires extending antitrust law into an entirely new area—one that holds that bigness is bad for social reasons independent of consumer choice. That’s a much harder argument to make.
But it’s not as hard this morning as it used to be. Yesterday, someone at Facebook apparently took down Warren’s #BreakUpBigTech ads on the social sharing platform “because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo.” Big mistake. The company restored the ads, but not quickly enough. It has now become Exhibit A in Warren’s argument.
“Curious why I think FB has too much power?” Warren posted on Twitter. “Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power.”
More news below.
Facebook isn’t the only tech giant that’s unwittingly stumping for Warren by demonstrating the purpose of her antitrust drive. Google has in the last week quietly rolled out a new hotel-booking service that will compete with the likes of Airbnb. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (an unlikely Warren ally, to put it mildly) is also calling for Google’s breakup, specifically a separation of its search and third-party ad operations. Fortune
A shareholder lawsuit has revealed the existence of an at-least-$35 million payout made to former Google search VP Amit Singhal, who was forced out in 2016 following a sexual assault investigation. Singhal denies the claims made against him, which involve the groping of an employee. Guardian
The latest countries to temporarily ban Boeing 737 Max planes are Australia and Singapore—following China and Indonesia’s lead—while carriers that have suspended use of the models now include Aeromexico, Comair, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Eastar Jet, Cayman Airways and, of course, Ethiopian Airways, whose 737 Max 8 crash triggered the latest crisis. The U.S isn’t grounding the planes, but is demanding speedy design changes. Boeing’s share drop yesterday ended up being around 5%, after falling almost 10% at one point, but it’s continuing to slide today. 10 Daily
Raghuram Rajan, India’s former central bank governor and a former IMF chief economist, has warned that capitalism no longer provides for the masses and is therefore “under serious threat.” Rajan, who is tipped as a possible future Bank of England governor, said it was no longer possible to get a good middle-class job with a modest education, so a revolt against the system is possible and could lead to authoritarian regimes. BBC
Around the Water Cooler
There’s another very important Brexit vote today: Prime Minister Theresa May’s second crack at getting Parliament to green-light her negotiated Brexit deal, following last night’s granting of additional assurances regarding the crucial Irish backstop issue. The assurances fall short of the substantive changes she promised Parliament she would get, so expect a second rejection, followed later this week by votes on a “no deal” Brexit (also likely to be rejected) and a request to the EU for a Brexit extension. Metro
Web at 30
The World Wide Web is 30 years old today, and inventor Tim Berners-Lee is worried that it is no longer a force for good. However, he writes, “given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can’t be changed for the better in the next 30.” Web Foundation
The potential merger of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank could be bungled by the former, leaving Deutsche Bank with even bigger problems than it currently has. That’s according to the bank’s own regulatory supervisors, who told the Financial Times: “You have to employ ruthless brutality to be really successful…Should the deal fail, we would have regulatory issues that we are keen to avoid.” Financial Times
The New York Attorney General has subpoenaed Trump Organization-related records from Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank. Deutsche Bank was one of the few banks that was willing to extend substantial lines of credit to Trump after his long history of bankruptcies. New York Times