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Increasing differences between firms: market power and the macro-economy

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  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

A rich understanding of macro-economic outcomes requires taking into account the large (and increasing) differences between firms. These differences stem in large part from heterogeneous productivity rooted in managerial and technological capabilities that do not transfer easily between firms. In recent decades the differences between firms in terms of their relative sales, productivity and wages appear to have increased in the US and many other industrialized countries. Higher sales concentration and apparent increases in aggregate markups have led to the concern that product market power has risen substantially which is a potential explanation for the falling labor share of GDP, sluggish productivity growth and other indicators of declining business dynamism. I suggest that this conclusion is premature. Many of the patterns are consistent with a more nuanced view where many industries have become "winner take most/all" due to globalization and new technologies rather than a generalized weakening of competition due to relaxed anti-trust rules or rising regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • John Van Reenen, 2018. "Increasing differences between firms: market power and the macro-economy," CEP Discussion Papers dp1576, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1576
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    firm differences; concentration; market power; policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • M2 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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