Tag Archives: american business proft margins

Is Lack of Competition Killing Americans’ Pay?

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal ties fat corporate profits to a lack of competitiveness in American industry which eventually leads to skimpy worker pay:

Never before have American companies seen so much of their sales drift down to the bottom line. In 12 months that ended in the second quarter, U.S. after-tax corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product, a measure of profit margins across the entire economy, came to 10.9%, according to the Commerce Department. That was the highest level according to records going back to 1929. Nor are there signs of erosion: S&P Dow Jones Indices estimates profits at companies in the S&P 500 as a share of sales hit a high in the third quarter…

Why aren't historically wide profit margins getting competed away? One reason may be that there isn't a lot of up-and-coming competition…

To some extent, the dearth of young businesses reflects an environment in which keeping your day job seems wiser than starting something new. But in a lending environment in which funding for newer, smaller businesses is constrained, many would-be entrepreneurs are willing but not able. Facing fewer newcomers, established businesses have one less reason to spend more on wages and equipment; why put effort into building a moat that isn't needed? This is great for profits but not the long-term health of the economy.