Corporate Consolidation: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Corporate Consolidation: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


I would like to talk to you
about business. The thing that everyone
onShark Tankthinks they have
a great idea for,
even this guy.Our cakes…
are made of foam, and they’re rentals. -Wait!
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) So, I can neither have my cake,
nor eat it too? I am in,
here is a million dollars. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Small start-up businesses
like that hold a special place
in America’s heart and politicians from across
the political spectrum love to talk
about how important they are. Small business is the backbone
of the American economy. Small businesses
are the backbone of this nation’s economy. BOTH: Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy. BOTH: Small businesses are
the backbone– ALL: Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy. ALL: Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy. ALL: Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy. -(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING)
-It’s true. “Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy” is that rare thing that
every politician agrees on. It’s that,
support the troops, -Ted Cruz can go fuck himself…
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) …and South Dakota senator
John Thune can get it, -he can get it!
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Now, look, it can feel like
we’re in a golden age of small business start-ups, but
that isn’t actually the case. The rate at which new businesses
are been created has actually being
steadily falling since the 1970s.
And I would argue that one of the reasons for that,
is that big businesses, have been getting even bigger, which brings us
to our main topic tonight, “Corporate Consolidation.” Recent years, have seen record highs
for mergers and acquisitions. As you would know,
if you’ve ever watched the thrilled reactions they get
on business news. M&A has been hot,
continues to be hot. An exciting year for M&A. A few blockbuster deals
being announced. They call it “Merger Monday,”
on Wall Street. It is shaping up to be another
“Merger Monday.” They don’t call it
“Merger Monday” for nothing. -Media mega “Merger Monday.”
-“Merger Monday.” M– M– M… “Merger Monday”? -At last we have one, I say…
-♪ Hallelujah ♪
Okay, that was obviously
a little nauseating, but also, pressing a button on TV
is a little bit dangerous because someone could take
that footage and then loop any sound
that they want under there. Now, obviously I’m not immature
enough to do that but if I were
it would look like this. “Merger Monday”? At last we have one,
and I say… (FART NOISE) -(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING, CHEERING)
-(BLOWS) The point is– This point is, all this
merger activity has all made some sectors
of our economy ridiculously consolidated. NEWSCASTER:The United States
has gone from having
ten large airlines back in 2000
to just four today.
And those four mega airlines
now dominate
more than 80 percent
of the U.S. market.
Yeah, we down to just four
major airline choices, and no that does not include
jetBlue because that is not actually an airline. It’s just a very expensive way
to eat those weird blue chips… -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-…which are, and this is true -just sliced Grover arms.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Look, and airlines here are
just the beginning. The rental car business is now 90 percent dominated
by just three companies. The U.S. beer industry
is 70 percent controlled
by just two companies, and online search engines are
of course as we all know dominated by one major player.
That’s right say it with me, -Bing.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) That’s right. Bing, the best way
to Google something. In fact, look,
full disclosure here. Even our own parent company,
Time Warner is currently trying to merge
with AT&T, which makes this story
a little dangerous for us to do. Although you know,
that is presuming that AT&T executives manage
to get there shitty service working long enough to see it. -(AUDIENCE CHEERING)
-AT&T, it’s the top
telecom company around alphabetically and nothing else. -(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING)
-Look, even some brands, that you might think
of as indie now have multinational owners.
Burt’s Bees? It’s– it’s not run
by a backward bee fucker -called Burt.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) It’s run by Clorox. Tom’s of Maine,
the deodorant which did so little to deodorize
your freshmen year roommate. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) That’s not owned
by Colgate-Palmolive. And then there was Goose Island. Now, their ads feature
beardy brewers rubbing-hops on their faces.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) But what they don’t mention is that Goose Island
is owned by Anheuser-Busch, and that farm that you just saw is located at
822 Budweiser Loop. It’s presumably just passed
Bud Light lime-a-rita boulevard. Basically, if you see the mass
grave of Clydesdale horses, turn left and you’re there. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-And it says something about the rapid rate of mergers
that even Jim Cramer, occasionally
finds himself in disbelief at one happening. Watch him react to a mega merger
in the aluminum can industry. Ball Corp’s acquisition of Rexam is taking the number
of competitors in this space down to,
get this, -from three to two.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) How did they let that happen? -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Yeah. It’s not great when
a business casual Louis C.K. with a sound effects board is saying, “Holy shit
this was a really bad idea.” -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-But, but
“how did they let that happen?” Is actually
a really good question. And the answer is interesting,
because we’ve had anti-trust laws on the books
for more than a century. And I’m not saying that
every single merger is bad. Sometimes businesses
getting bigger can lead to greater efficiencies
and improvements. The tension is between
allowing that and preventing them
from doing real harm. So it’s a– it’s a balance. But since the late 1970s,
that balance has tipped decidedly in favor
of being merger friendly, which has led
to real problems. And let’s start
with the obvious, for workers, mergers can
often mean big layoffs, but it’s not just employees
that can suffer, consumers can too,
as Jim Cramer explained, in that aluminum can segment in an inexplicably
sarcastic tone of voice. I always say competition,
while great for you, a consumer, is it enough amount of profits. Sometimes a business would be
a total monopoly with no competition whatsoever,
and while that’s the ideal, it’s very rare to see
a genuine monopoly, -because of course,
it’s against the law.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Which brings us to the next
best thing, an oligopoly, where a handful of companies
control an entire industry, co-existing peacefully without much in the way
of price competition. -That’s a weird tone to use…
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) …to describe something
that’s clearly awful. It’s rare to see genuine
bestiality because of course
it’s against the law. Which brings us to the next
best thing, having sex
with the stuffed animal while looking at pictures
of a real horse. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And– And for sense of what
it can look like when a handful of companies
co-exist peacefully without much in the way
of price competition, just look at airlines. In 2012, one airline executive
told an industry conference, Consolidation has allowed us
to do things like ancillary revenues,
which is jargon for all those fees
that drive you fucking crazy! Now, American was the first
major airline to charge you for your
first checked bag back in 2008, and back then people
could not believe it. NEWSCASTER:American Airlines
will soon charge $15
for the first checked bag.That on top of a fee
of $25
-for your second one.
-Fifteen dollars? Holy cow. I’ll have to put
my underwear in my pocket. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Yes! First, that is clearly
a delightful man. Although, it does makes you
wonder whether he fills his bags full of underwear
and nothing else. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-But– But within months, most major airlines had followed
American’s lead and it was essentially
industry standard. And it is easy
for that to happen when there’s only a handful
of big players. In fact since then they have
added and increased bag fees multiple times,
often moving in tandem, which is how those fees have
gone generating around 540 million dollars a year
a decade ago, to 4.2 billion dollars now. And that is infuriating.
After all, if I wanted exorbitant fees that keep getting raised all
the time despite shitty service, I’d become a customer of AT&T. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-Yeah. -Fuck you AT&T!
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Even if you take over
you’ll never be my real dad! (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And, look, you– you may
well be angry with the service you get
from airlines but thanks to consolidation, they don’t really need
to give a shit about what you think. And if you don’t believe me? Remember that awful video that
went around earlier this year. NEWSCASTER:The shocking images
of a passenger
caught in a travel nightmare.A man visibly shaken
as he’s yanked
and then dragged of a United jet
by law enforcement.
All after refusing
to give up his seat.
Yeah,
that’s the most horrifying thing you can possibly see
on an airplane, unless your in-flight movie
isThe Boss Baby.A movie that combines
the unbearable smugness of Alec Baldwin
with an unbearable smugness -of a baby.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Now, in the wake
of that incident, people said
it was a PR nightmare and there was talk on Twitter
of boycotting United. The problem is on certain routes
they’re the only option. So, a boycott is gonna be
pretty hard to pull-off, and that is arguably why
their CEO was later able to open his
earnings call for that quarter, by describing a period in which,
I will remind you, a passenger had his teeth
knocked out on one of United’s planes,
like this. OSCAR MUNOZ:Welcome to
a terrific second quarter,
strong financial
results and even uh,
more incredible
operational results. And as you
think of our customers,
I want to thanks them for their
continued loyalty and support.
We continue to find new
and better ways to service them
and make the more comfortable
on our airline.
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-And you know what? Is it really any wonder that
their earnings stayed solid. United, is sometimes
the only way to get to where you are going. Which actually explains
their new slogan, “You wanna fuckin’ roller blade
to Houston? Shut up and get in!” (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And when and industry gets
too consolidated, any company trying to compete
with them or survive in their
supply chain, can get crushed. Now we all know about Amazon,
Walmart or Google, but there are less
obvious examples of this too. Take eye-wear. Now if you go
into a Lens Crafters, you’ll see frames
by brands like um, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry
and Ralph Lauren. All of which it turns out, are made by an Italian company
called Luxotica, which incidentally also owns
Lens Crafters and Sunglass Hut and Pearle Vision and runs
Target Optical, and Sears Optical. So, what can
happen when a smaller company goes up against them?
Well, just ask Oakley. BRETT ARENDS:
Oakley was a big competitor
and they had a fight
with Luxotica and Luxotica basically said, we’re dropping you
from our stores. -And–
-They refused -to sell their glasses…
-BRETT: Yeah. -…in their store?
-It was a dispute about pricing, and they dropped Oakley
from the stores. And Oakley’s
stock price collapsed. There were some issues between
the two companies in the beginning
of the 2000s, but… both of them understood
that it was better to go along. We merged with Oakley in 2007. -You bought Oakley.
-So we’re talking– They tried to compete
and they lost and then you bought them. I understand your theory, but… they understood that life
was better together. -Whoa!
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) That is the menacing tone
of a Bond villain, They understood that life was better together, Mr. Bond, no? That is the first time that I’ve ever felt sorry
for Oakley. The official sunglasses
of guys who un-ironically use
the term “finger blasting.” And– I think
it’s a sponsorship deal. And– And there is one
more victim of consolidation that you may not think about, and that
is the products themselves. Because
heavily consolidated industries can lose the incentive
to innovate and the best example of this
may be the cable box beneath your TV.
If you have one of those, you probably hate it. Because it’s huge, it’s glitchy, and it’s may be one
of the largest energy consuming items in your house even when it’s turned off.
But if you think about it, cable companies have no real
incentive to improve them. They’re essentially regional–
regional monopolies. And again, they know that you basically
have no where else to go. And you can’t even smash your
cable box out of frustration, because you’re renting it
and they’ll then charge you hundreds of dollars
if you don’t give it back. Which is why
we went through the trouble of blowing this one up for you.
Please take a look. There you go. Pretty cathartic to watch,
right? -I hope that helps.
-(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) Feel free to watch it again
in slow motion. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING, CHEERING) I want you to know
that box suffered. -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)
-The point here is, we seem to have forgotten,
how important Anti-Trust is. And now are being forced
to live with the consequences. Because this issue affects
almost everything you do. Angry at banks? Well, the industry’s dominated
by just these four. Frustrated with your
health insurance provider? Odds are, it’s one of these. And if this whole story
is infuriating you so much that you’re yearning
for the sweet escape of death? Well bad luck,
because the casket industry is controlled
by these three companies. Oh, and it gets even worse. The after life is actually
controlled by one religion. I’m not saying which one, but when you find out
you’re gonna be so mad. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -The point– The point is–
-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) The point is, we have laws to prevent the worse effects
of consolidation. And it may well be time
to more aggressively use them to impose strict standards
and to empower the FTC and the DOJ’s
anti-trust divisions. And that is something that
most people would really get behind, and nearly
every politician should. After all, there is one thing
they can not stop saying. ALL: Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy. Well, if they
really believe that, it may be time for them
to stop talking about backbones and actually fucking grow one. -(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING)
-And now this. NARRATOR:And now.All of Jim Cramer’s
sound buttons
replaced with fart noises.Hedge-Funds that are in trouble
start selling, not because they want to, -but because they have
to raise money…
-(FART NOISE) to pay back their
unhappy clients. (FART NOISE) -Things keep working out.
-(FART NOISE) Is it any wonder
that Norfolk Southern -and Union Pacific keep running?
-(FART NOISE) -Buy high and then sell low!
-(FART NOISE) A time-honored way
to lose money. -Sell it tomorrow…
-(FART NOISE) …because the whole idea
of saving for retirement -puts you to sleep.
-(FART NOISE) -I want you to feel embolden…
-(FART NOISE) -…not.
-(FART NOISE) As we tell you what we would do
before we pull any trigger. (FART NOISE) -I was wrong on both counts.
-(FART NOISE) (FART NOISE)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. Luxottica is why glasses frames are like $500, or were back in the 90s and 2000s. I need new frames and I'll see ads for GlassesUSA.com or whatever and I'm already confused if these are just cheap knock offs or actually a small business trying to fight. The fact remains that the US never did anything about it for 30 some years.

  2. For a deeper history of why antitrust laws are how they are, NPR's Planet Money podcast did a great 3 part series last February going into the history and how we got here. Starts with Antitrust 1: Standard Oil (2/15/2019). Having context for these conversions is important.

  3. upvoted because I agree it's a problem even though you're still an unfunny bong who didn't make me laugh even once.
    did you not have a comedy loicense, ya smug little git?

  4. 13:17 – I think what's basically saying is that the Afterlife is controlled by our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

  5. Yeah AT&T was once a separate cellphone company until they were bought by SBC who then adopted the name for its brand name including the stock name.. Why do I know this? I was working at a call center in the 90's for "SBC/ATT Yahoo internet". People were calling in after discovering a $20/month charge on their phone bill. At the time not as many people had computers.. In one case an owner of an apartment complex was calling to cancel that $20 dial-up internet under the yahoo brand.. on the building's elevator's emergency phone. I provided a refund to folks who had the service for sometimes years.. the customer would call about some other issue and would end up with the dial-up internet added to their phone bill even if they didn't have a computer.. I would refund sometimes years worth of this tacked on service.. until one day a manager called me into the office to tell me I could no longer provide a full refund (actually just a credit applicable to their phone bill) And the manager said "if they want a refund they can fight for it" Once again that's SBC who is now known as as AT&T. Have fun!

  6. 13:04 – Credit Unions.
    13:08 – Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist hospitals. Pay cash.
    13:17 – Cremation – in a $17.00 cardboard box.
    13:26 – Muslims aren't told that the word 'virgins' was mistranslated. It should say 70 raisins.

  7. 13:04 – Credit Unions.
    13:08 – Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist hospitals. Pay cash.
    13:17 – Cremation – in a $17.00 cardboard box.
    13:26 – Muslims aren't told that the word 'virgins' was mistranslated. It should say 70 raisins.

  8. 13:04 – Credit Unions.
    13:08 – Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist hospitals. Pay cash.
    13:17 – Cremation – in a $17.00 cardboard box.
    13:26 – Muslims aren't told that the word 'virgins' was mistranslated. It should say 70 raisins.

  9. 13:04 – Credit Unions.
    13:08 – Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist hospitals. Pay cash.
    13:17 – Cremation – in a $17.00 cardboard box.
    13:26 – Muslims aren't told that the word 'virgins' was mistranslated. It should say 70 raisins.

  10. 13:04 – Credit Unions.
    13:08 – Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist hospitals. Pay cash.
    13:17 – Cremation – in a $17.00 cardboard box.
    13:26 – Muslims aren't told that the word 'virgins' was mistranslated. It should say 70 raisins.

  11. Did you know you could strip one end of a length of coax, use a 'thumbscrew' (not the Roman Catholic version) to attach it snugly to a nearby metal sliding glass door frame, for example, and get about 10 channels?

  12. Did you know you could strip one end of a length of coax, use a 'thumbscrew' (not the Roman Catholic version) to attach it snugly to a nearby metal sliding glass door frame, for example, and get about 10 channels?

  13. Did you know you could strip one end of a length of coax, use a 'thumbscrew' (not the Roman Catholic version) to attach it snugly to a nearby metal sliding glass door frame, for example, and get about 10 channels?

  14. Did you know you could strip one end of a length of coax, use a 'thumbscrew' (not the Roman Catholic version) to attach it snugly to a nearby metal sliding glass door frame, for example, and get about 10 channels?

  15. I love compilation clips like that because it exemplifies the meaningless bullshit that politicians say to sound good. Small business actually isn’t respected by the US because most of them fail and their creators go into huge amounts of debt. They don’t get support by governments whilst mega corporations get massive subsidies and bailouts.

  16. Another reason it is harder to keep a small company afloat is regulations. Democrats push them out the ass in places like California making it far to costly. It's why Texas has substantially higher success rates of small businesses, far more opening yearly, and less bankruptcy files despite a similar population. Keep government away from small business.

  17. John…you were funny with the Jon Stewart show…now your just a
    buffoon… the liberal puppeteers has their hands so far up your ass these
    days.

  18. John…you were funny with the Jon Stewart show…now your just a
    buffoon… the liberal puppeteers has their hands so far up your ass these
    days.

  19. I love BING. Google is pay to play and basically is sponsored by Skynet and what they want you to think, buy and believe.

  20. Adam Ruins Everything Podcast and Tv show

    Guess the show and episode:
    Paraphrased:
    Woman:u don’t have a tv license?
    Man: no
    Woman: you will be executed for that
    Man: I would like to see them try.

  21. It's just gotten worse. The giant companies are now just eating themselves. Capitalism unchecked is just killing us.

  22. And as a Truck Driver with a keen interest in the industry as a whole, this has reminded me of several things I've read…it appears that Daimler AG, Volkswagen Group, Volvo, and PACCAR, between them, own at leat 17 truck brands around the world (including all North American brands: Freightliner, Peterbilt, Kenworth, MACK, Western Star, Sterling…and Daimler owns Detroit Diesel)…and also 12 Car brands. Obviously there's Mercedes-Benz (Daimler), VW (Volkswagen, and Volvo (Volvo), but VW also owns Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bugatti, Seat, and Skoda.

  23. I think the biggest issue is everyone just wants to fight and no one wants to FUCKIN AGREE FOR ONCE its all a big Debate-O-Rama for them man really your gonna support Aborting a live baby at 9 months? killing a child just because Your SELFISH ass cant see it yet? If you dont want it then fucking put it up to ADOPTION this shit is disgusting all you "Democrats" Are playing into Evil and you cant even see it.

  24. Jim Cramer will forever have a place in my heart, for having a cameo at the very beginning of the MCU

  25. Amtrak is a perfectly good way to travel between States.

    Especially if you're only going a State or two away.

    If you'd rather not fly for an hour or two, and you've got a couple days and were considering taking a Greyhound bus anyway, the Train is the same price, sometimes even cheaper, makes far fewer stops on the way, and you can walk up to the dining car and sit looking out the window the whole way with all the legroom you could ever need!

  26. That's why American Democrats instead of focus on racism and sexism which consume 90% of the media. Focus on legislation which has a positive effect on lower, middle income families.

  27. I don't know if it's because I'm immature, but I was laughing my ass off with the replacement fart noises….!!! 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  28. almost every episode of Jon Oliver makes me wanna subscribe hit the like button and favorite the video more than once during watching XD

  29. The hashtag "LeningradLindsey" trended on Twitter Thursday after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) forced a controversial asylum bill through committee.

  30. fyi when the USA defeated
    us on the pacifc war, they made us make laws BANNING
    the situation where a few big corporations ruling an intire industry.

    Now they're doing exactly that.

    How ironic.

  31. There was a whole chapter on Oligopolies in my Micro-economics 101 class…yea, they're almost as bad as monopolies. It's so easy to get around the pricing competition. If there's a industry leader, all they need to do is raise prices, which is a signal to everyone else to also raise prices. Or, they just monitor each other's prices and match them, and when they notice this is happening, decide not to compete based on price (sometimes even raising prices), but rather on advertising. I could go on and on about how Oligopolies ruin competition and therefore screw over the consumers…but you already knew that. I will add though, that these companies are usually the biggest donors to politicians…which you know, isn't suspicious at all and totally not correlated to anti-trust laws not being followed…

  32. I remember when airlines began charging for extra bags, it was because petrol went over $3 per gallon. My question is, petrol is now back down to $2+ per gallon, why are they still charging for bags?????

  33. 1:20 Dude have you checked out how onerous the process to start a business is in most states!? I thought about starting a business in California but after looking at the relevant rules and regulations determined I would probably need a legal council to navigate through. At the time I was a student at UCLA so I went in for free legal advice, basically they told me I should be prepared to wait a minimum of 2 years if I do all the paperwork properly.

    This process is insane and only benefits large corporations and wealthy investors at the expensive of regular entrepreneurs.

    Here's an experiment to see if my theory is correct. Rate the states in order of how onerous the bureaucratic process is to start a new business, then see if the states with the least onerous process open the most small businesses per capita. Maybe add in a few controls like 'anyone starting a new business with over x million in the companies bank account or available from VC group B' are excluded as they are by definition now multi-million dollar corporations.

  34. 7:50 "If I wanted exorbitant fees that keep getting raised all the time despite having shittier and shittier service…" I'd enroll in an American University.

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