The commentary below was written by Jesse Felder of The Felder Report.
There has been a lot written recently about the forces that have led us to the current “winner-take-all” economy, or what some have called a new, “gilded age,” a reference to the time when a handful of large “trusts” dominated their respective industries.
Most seem to blame the lack of antitrust enforcement and growing corporate influence in Washington and these have obviously played a role. However, there are a pair of far less obvious forces at work in the markets that may have had just as much influence in this regard.
Harvard Business Review recently tackled the topic of growing corporate concentration and anti-competitive behavior as it relates to the rise of passive investing. They demonstrate that the rapid growth of common ownership of multiple companies in the same sector has supported the rise of oligopolies and enabled anti-competitive behavior across a number of industries.
Similarly, a new research paper finds that low interest rates, such as those enabled by the world’s major central banks over the past decade, also encourage the sort of corporate concentration that allows for anti-competitive practices.
These two pieces of information are especially important for investors because they give a pair of new targets to those railing against what they see as the ills of our current form of capitalism. To the extent these folks are able to affect policy, both passive investing and activist monetary policy are at risk of both a social and political backlash. And I’m sure you can imagine what their success might mean for the markets.
This is a Hedgeye Guest Contributor piece written by Jesse Felder and reposted from The Felder Report blog. Felder has been managing money for over 20 years. He began his professional career at Bear, Stearns & Co. and later co-founded a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund firm headquartered in Santa Monica, California. Today he lives in Bend, Oregon and publishes The Felder Report. This piece does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Hedgeye.