Henry George was right then about opposing monopolies. He’s still right now.
Like immense amoebas on the prowl, America’s already huge corporations are combining like nobody’s business. In recent months, Walgreens bought Rite Aid, uniting two of the nation’s three largest drugstore chains; in beerland, Molson Coors is buying Miller ; mega-health insurers Aetna and Anthem, respectively, bought mega-health insurers Humana and Cigna ; Heinz bought Kraft, good news for those who take ketchup with their cheese; and American Airlines completed its absorption of US Airways, reducing the number of major U.S. airlines to four, which now control 70 percent of the air travel market. On Wall Street, the five biggest commercial banks hold nearly half of the nation’s bank assets; in 1990, the five biggest held just 10 percent.
Retailers that look to be rivals actually turn out to be brands of a single firm. A company called Luxottica owns LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Sears Optical and Target Optical. Online shoppers for flights and hotels may be less than thrilled to learn that once the Expedia-Orbitz merger is completed, the combined company and Priceline will control all the online vendors. Hyatt is considering buying Starwood, itself the owner of the Sheraton, W and St. Regis brands.