Mexico’s Most Critical Problems are Also Our Own

September 25, 2010  |   Mexico Politics and Policy

August 15, 2010 By Paul Crist  Mexico’s once growing middle class is under attack from above and below, and the stress is showing up in the shrinking numbers who can claim middle class status.  This trend predates the current economic crisis, but has been greatly exacerbated by it.  Middle class Mexicans face a political and economic system stacked in favor of the super-rich above them, while from below they face kidnappings and robbery by desperate and angry criminal poor. Predation from Above: Despite modest progress, entrenched crony capitalism where bribery is the rule and who-you-know counts for more than knowledge, hard work or risk-taking, remains the order of the day in Mexico.  Leaders from across the spectrum of Mexican politics must accept the majority of blame, although there is culpability north of the Mexican border as well.  Progress toward political transparency and economic liberalism has been incremental in some areas, nonexistent in others.  Privatization of formerly government-controlled industries have enriched a handful of wealthy and politically connected Mexicans, as well as a fair number of politicians.  As a popular Mexican saying goes “un político pobre es un pobre político,” (“A poor politician is a poor politician”). Mexican consumers pay higher prices for a lower quality of service and reduced availabil­ity of goods.  The state-corporatist system of price supports, subsidies, and special-interest tax exemptions gives an unfair advantage to wealthy and well-connected businessmen while restricting competition and obstructing eco­nomic growth.  Of course, the most critical result of anticompetitive policies for Mexican


Corporate Consolidation: Some Facts and Figures

April 2, 2010  |   Paul Crist

 Time to enforce, and strengthen, antitrust laws! Corporate Consolidation:  Some Facts and Figures By Spencer Windes on Feb 09, 2010 There has been a frightening trend towards corporate consolidation in the last few decades. Here are some troubling facts. Agriculture: From thousands of seed companies and public breeding institutions three decades ago, 10 companies now control more than two-thirds of global proprietary seed sales. The proprietary seed market (that is, brand-name seed subject to exclusive monopoly – i.e., intellectual property), now accounts for 82% of the commercial seed market worldwide. From dozens of pesticide companies three decades ago, 10 now control almost 90% of agrochemical sales worldwide. Biotech: From almost 1,000 biotech start-ups 15 years ago, 10 companies now account for three-quarters of industry revenues. Pharma: The top 10 pharmaceutical companies control 55% of the global drug market. In 2009 Merck and Schering-Plough merged to create Merck-Schering-Plough (a $41 billion cash and stock deal), just weeks after Pfizer bought Wyeth for $62 billion, maintaining its position as the #1 drug company in the world. The remaining big players (Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi Aventis, Glaxo) will most likely be forced to buy up smaller firms or seek mergers if they want to compete. Food: In raw foodstuffs, mergers among the nation’s largest grain firms — including Cargill’s acquisition of Continental Grain, and ConAgra’s purchase of Peavey and Standard Milling — contributed to giving four firms control over more than 60 percent of the nation’s grain business. In meatpacking, ConAgra’s acquisitions