Marshall Steinbaum

Marshall Steinbaum is a former fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, where he researched market power and inequality.

The US economy suffers from a market power problem that has invaded many sectors, including health care, telecommunications, and technology. As firms become more powerful, they are able to profit by taking advantage of other economic stakeholders rather than growing the overall economic pie. Competition as America once knew it—firms working to provide better goods

Roosevelt Research Associate Adil Abdela and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum submitted a public comment to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), arguing against the preliminary approval of the Staples-Essendant merger. For more information on anticompetitive business practices see Powerless. For more information on a new standard for antitrust, see The Effective Competition Standard.

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In partnership with the Economic Policy Institute, Roosevelt Research Associate Adil Abdela and Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum examine the impact of the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger on the labor market. Cutting the number of national players in the U.S. wireless industry from four to three, this move would escalate market power in the industry

To address the $1.5 trillion in outstanding student debt that is held by American borrowers today, it is vital to have a full debate about the costs and benefits of potential solutions. But this debate must be grounded in a solid understanding of the problem. David Leonhardt’s recent takedown of universal student-debt cancellation flows from

As tuition has risen over the last several decades in the U.S., student loan debt has ballooned. Despite growing debt loads, federal policy encourages the use of loans for financing higher education, based on the assumption that student debt supports increased postsecondary attainment—and, in turn, improved outcomes for individuals and our economy as a whole.

America’s failing antitrust system is, in large part, to blame for today’s market power problem. Lax antitrust law and enforcement have allowed troubling trends like corporate consolidation to remain unchallenged, further embedding our skewed economy. In highly consolidated markets, consumers have limited choice and little power to pick their price, quality, or provider for the

Since the 1970s, America’s antitrust policy regime has been weakening and market power has been on the rise. High market concentration—in which few firms compete in a given market—is one indicator of market power. From 1985 to 2017, the number of mergers completed annually rose from 2,308 to 15,361 (IMAA 2017). Recently, policymakers, academics, and

Many progressives have rightly criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), also known as the Trump tax law, on the grounds that the TCJA will cost over $1.5 trillion in lost revenue over the next decade, at a time when there is already insufficient revenue being generated to meet our country’s pressing needs. Many others have

Following decades of lax antitrust enforcement, the airline sector today suffers from a market power problem. Fewer firms means there is less competition, which is great for corporate profits but bad for consumers and other stakeholders. In “Airline Consolidation, Merger Retrospectives, and Oil Price Pass-Through,” Roosevelt Research Director Marshall Steinbaum studies the last 10 years

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The American economy no longer functions to the benefit of American workers. Despite record profits and increased productivity, wages have been stagnant. In fact, despite being 75 percent more productive in 2016 than in 1973, the average worker earned just 12 percent more. An emerging body of research chronicles the extent of labor market monopsony—where

Today, the Roosevelt Institute released Powerless: How Lax Antitrust and Concentrated Market Power Rig the Economy Against American Workers, Consumers, and Communities, a report I wrote with my colleagues Eric Harris Bernstein and John Sturm. In this report, we catalog the growing body of evidence that strongly supports our view that the economy is afflicted

As workers, as consumers, and as citizens, Americans are increasingly powerless in today’s economy. A 40-year assault on antitrust and competition policy—the laws and regulations meant to guard against the concentration of power in private hands—has tipped the economy in favor of powerful corporations and their shareholders. Under the false assumption that the unencumbered ambitions

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators voted to roll back regulations put in place in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Those regulations rewrote the rules of our banking system that had long prioritized profits over people—a system that for generations exploited and perpetuated racial inequities and ultimately foiled the financial wellbeing of

How does corporate power suppress worker wages? And why has it hit rural America especially hard? Please join Roosevelt Research Director Marshall Steinbaum and CNN’s Lydia DePillis on March 23 for a conversation about a key force driving Americans’ economic insecurity. Steinbaum’s latest research reveals how employers are using increasingly concentrated corporate power to shape the labor market

Labor economists have traditionally focused on worker-side characteristics, such as education, as the crucial causal variable for explaining outcomes like earnings, unemployment, and inequality. But that point of view depends on labor markets remaining competitive, so workers can earn their marginal product of labor—because if they earned less, they’d leave for another job. What a

The Levy Institute recently released a research paper I co-wrote with Stephanie Kelton, Scott Fulwiler, and Catherine Ruetschlin that models the macroeconomic impact of cancelling all of the student debt that is currently outstanding in the United States—just over $1.4 trillion, held by between 40 and 50 million borrowers. The federal government would write off

The problem of labor market monopsony—buyer power among employers—has gotten increasing attention in recent years, including in my 2016 Roosevelt Institute paper with Roosevelt fellow Mike Konczal, in a Council of Economic Advisors issue brief, and in a widely-circulated paper by economist Simcha Barkai. The basic idea of monopsony is that if employers don’t have

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing about the consumer welfare standard to determine whether it is outdated or remains the worthwhile core principle of antitrust enforcement. The hearing comes amid widespread questioning about antitrust’s effectiveness in recent decades. As the debate over the AT&T-Time Warner merger rages, this hearing is particularly timely.

The Feds Side Against Alt-Labor

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission voted 2-0 to join the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in an amicus brief to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, siding with the Chamber of Commerce against the City of Seattle’s grant of collective bargaining rights to “independent contractors” working as drivers for Uber, Lyft, taxis, and other ride-sharing

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Presentation to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Opening Remarks October 5, 2017 Amazon recently bought Whole Foods, following a pro-forma approval by the Federal Trade Commission. Amazon touted its plans to cut prices on popular items on the very day the merger closed, and it advertised those discounts as resulting from the merger. It was as

“Market Power Rising” Panel on Antitrust in the Labor Market, Opening Remarks September 25, 2017 Antitrust policy has typically viewed monopsony power in the labor market as arising from an essentially competitive context—if it exists at all. The maintained assumption in the antitrust orthodoxy has been that the economy is on or near its production

A Real Monopoly Moment

The news that Barry Lynn’s Open Markets group has been evicted from its DC think tank home, New America, for crossing the interests of its major funder, Google, is a legitimately shocking development. This development crystalizes the concerns about monopoly power that we at Roosevelt have been pointing out these past few years—along with our

How would a massive federal spending program like a universal basic income (UBI) affect the macroeconomy? We use the Levy Institute macroeconometric model to estimate the impact of three versions of such an unconditional cash assistance program over an eight-year time horizon. Overall, we find that the economy can not only withstand large increases in

The other day, Scott Greenberg of the Tax Foundation claimed that “Tax Rates on the Rich Were Not That Much Higher in the 1950s.” His idea? That despite a statutory top marginal income tax rate of 91% in that era, the rich actually paid a much lower effective tax rate, because they were able to

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The FCC Tilts Its Hand

On July 13th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed an Administrative Law Judge’s ruling that Cablevision discriminated against the Game Show Network (GSN) by moving it from its basic tier of channels to an add-on sports tier. This advantaged a rival channel owned by Cablevision itself, which would now face less competition for customer eyeballs

The Congressional Democrats’ new economic agenda elevates antitrust policy to a stature it has not attained in many decades, and it questions the consensus that has governed antitrust policy while it has been out of the public eye. Antitrust must be a core component of any agenda that would address the slow economic growth, rising

#BreakUpAmazon

This morning Amazon announced its planned purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion – a 27 percent premium over its share price at the close of business Thursday. To Americans who have made Amazon America’s most reputable company three years running, this may sound like good news, but we here at the Roosevelt Institute are

Donald Trump’s budget, released today, is a lie on top of a joke. A lie because it leaves off the enormous cost of the president’s proposed tax cuts for the rich and a joke because it relies on comically exaggerated forecasts of supercharged economic growth to generate additional revenue so that Trump can claim he

Senior Economist and Roosevelt Fellow Marshall Steinbaum’s statement on Trump’s tax plan: Trump’s proposal to cut corporate tax rates won’t boost growth or create jobs. In fact, it will discourage corporate investment, as corporations and their shareholders earn even higher profits and pocket more of the cash–just like they did last time we tried a

The following remarks were delivered to a congressional panel by Roosevelt Fellow and Senior Economist Marshall Steinbaum on March 22, 2017. Antitrust, and competition policy more broadly, is the classic intersectional economic policy issue of our time. The evidence of the current policy’s failure is all around us: long wait times, or no customer service

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As large firms like AT&T continue to explore methods of cementing their hold on their respective industries, regulators must proactively identify opportunities for anticompetitive abuses of market power in the 21st century economy. To this end, it is imperative that the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission abandon the

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The Trump administration and House Republicans are proposing a massive tax cut for corporations and the 1 percent. They falsely claim the Brady-Ryan tax plan will increase investment, reverse outsourcing, and create jobs, but this is just more of their failed “trickle-down” ideology. In this report, we argue that the evidence shows another corporate tax cut

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We—Marshall Steinbaum, who has recently joined the Roosevelt Institute as a visiting fellow, and Mike Konczal—have a new working paper out titled Declining Entrepreneurship, Labor Mobility, and Business Dynamism: A Demand-side Approach. We hope you check it out! We think it adds some important evidence on an unfolding debate. Here is a great write-up by Anna Louie Sussman

Academics and policymakers have recently focused on a worsening economic phenomenon commonly referred to as the decline in “business dynamism,” that is, the declining rate at which new businesses are formed and the rate at which they grow. This decline in dynamism and entrepreneurship accompanies a decline in overall labor market mobility, including quits and

I couldn’t be happier to join the Roosevelt Institute as a Visiting Fellow, because it is an organization that so clearly “gets” the issue of rising inequality: why it’s happening, why it matters, and what can and should be done about it. The scholars and the work Roosevelt has gestated over the years have influenced

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