Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wal and Peace

The title is a jibe at how long the article The Case for Breaking Up Wal-Mart is, although it appears to be full article from Harper's so I'll excuse you for experiencing ADD after hitting Page-Down a few time. However the meat of the article is interesting and at least now I know what monopsony and the waterbed effect are but I wont tell you - you'll have to read the article to find out.

I especially liked the little twist right at the end, clearly designed to sell bringing anti-trust actions to the libertarian and republicans, however I doubt many are reading Harper's or would make it to the end of the article. The jibe about Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott's efforts to use anti-trust against other companies is even funnier... I guess they'd love to do that until they are the only Mart in the world.

Reading this article, I realized it does not mention anywhere Wal-Mart's recent efforts to paint itself as a "green" company. It's not really relevant to the title but I got to wondering if this monopsony effect applies to its green (or green-wash, depending on your perspective) activities. I could only conclude it must do. I just wonder whether that is a good or bad thing for the eco-market. Probably, since the move of a 600lb gorilla move into the market will inevitably dictate and squeeze supplier profits (I give in, that's monopsony) it will stifle innovation and investment in this area preemptively. Furthermore Wal-Mart will be able to dictate which green ideas flourish independently of their worthiness or eco-friendly qualities. So if hydrogen power is dictated as the be-all and end-all of power sources by the Republicans, then Wal-Mart will surely jump on that wagon and by its might alone dictate that to be a market winner, regardless of its dubious credentials as a green energy source (when generated via fossil fuels vs. renewables).

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