Thursday, 29 March 2018

Trump v Amazon: War of the Rentseekers?

An interesting take from

Trump’s deep-seated antipathy toward Amazon surfaces when discussing tax policy and antitrust cases. The president would love to clip CEO Jeff Bezos’ wings. But he doesn’t have a plan to make that happen.

Behind the president's thinking: Trump's wealthy friends tell him Amazon is destroying their businesses. His real estate buddies tell him — and he agrees — that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers.


Shiney said...


Trump is an arse. I like Amazon - they sell me cheap stuff and deliver it when I want.

Plus I can use their platform to go around the big retailers direct to my end-user customers in one of my businesses. And in another I can use their AWS and ECC computing resources for 'nuts to host sites, do development etc.

What's not to like.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Sh, I use amazon, so by definition I like it.

Ted Treen said...

Why pick on Amazon?

Shopping on the interwebs generally is having a real effect on retailing generally: even the big supermarkets now offer "shop online & we'll deliver" services. It might not be an industrial revolution, but it's certainly a commercial revolution which is still continuing and developing.

How good a thing this will prove to be ultimately, is still to be determined.

Ben Jamin' said...

No need to worry to much. The land under out of town shopping centres isn't worth much. As urban centres get repurposed from selling goods to services, land values there will rise as people will want to spend more time doing nice things, rather than mindless shopping for stuff they buy off the internet.

Lola said...

The whole of economic history recounts the bleating of existing vested interests as new technology usurps their rents and franchises. Print unions objecting to Murdoch's modernisation is no different from Trumps real estate mates moaning about losing their rents to Amazon's new shopping paradigm.

The problem for the rest of us is to stop governments from subsidising these powerful lobbies.

Bayard said...

"The problem for the rest of us is to stop governments from subsidising these powerful lobbies."

That's going to be a tad difficult as these powerful lobbies are, effectively, the government. That's the way it's always been, and probably the way it's always going to be. The usurpation of the rents and franchises by new technology has always been in the teeth of government opposition, or, at best, indifference.

In any case, this change in shopping habits is not to anything new. 100 years ago a large proportion of what people bought was ordered and delivered, not collected personally from shops. As a child I remember eggs, dairy products, meat, fish and bread being delivered, also mail-order catalogues for all sorts of things. It's amazing how short people's memories can be: even organisations like Screwfix predate the internet.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TT, I'm not bashing Amazon, we've got Amazon TV and I often order obscure car parts from small suppliers on Amazon.

Nonetheless, Bezo's business model is to expand to where it is a monopoly and then they can start making real profits, which so far they have not done, it's barely break even.

BJ, we will see. If the "small shopkeeper on the high street" disappears, well that's just the way it goes and no point in harking back to a particular point in the past and saying "that's how things should be".

As to more leisure on the high street, you only need so many cafes, pubs and nail bars. Most units are far too small for something decent like a climbing wall or go-karting or laser shooting. So buildings will have to be completely changed.

L, true, But in the end, it's always the banks and landowners who win out. Most of the other subsidy junkies are allowed to fall by the wayside sooner or later.

B, true, you used to get the milk (and eggs) and papers delivered every day. You still get letters delivered every day (in most places).

And we've always had mail order. I don't really see a massive difference between internet shopping and mail order, it's just that the online catalogue is much bigger and you can pay electronically when you order.

DBC Reed said...

The US relegalised Resale Price Maintenance (in Leegin 2007) so American online outfits could not undercut bricks and mortar retailers on prices of the same goods so its difficult to see what Trump's mates are on about.Things could be different in the UK where leaving the EU could mean that the UK retail sector could return to its traditional RPM.

Bayard said...

"As to more leisure on the high street, you only need so many cafes, pubs and nail bars. Most units are far too small for something decent like a climbing wall or go-karting or laser shooting. So buildings will have to be completely changed."

They could go back to being houses. I can remember the last two houses on the high street of my local town when I was growing up being converted, one into a hairdresser's and the other into a solicitors' office (but with a new, shop-style bow window). Much of the current empty retail space is a result of the large expansion of such premises in the 70s and 80s.

Physiocrat said...

My recent experience of internet shopping has been poor - wrong goods and damaged goods due to poor packing practices. It is a 20 minute walk to the collection point ie 40 minutes in all, which is about the same length of time it takes to walk to the shops.

It is OK for branded goods where one is absolutely certain what one wants, if they are unobtainable locally. If you live a long way from shops there is obviously an attraction. Over the years I think I have returned as many items as I have kept.

Bayard said...

P, all my internet shopping is delivered to my door, but local shops (15 mins drive away) do have an advantage if you want it right now and you know there is somewhere that stocks the item you want.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ph, there are indisputably some internet companies which provide a bad service. The stuff I buy on Amazon is usually third party businesses selling VIA Amazon, and so far, touch wood, it's always been fine. The stuff I buy direct has also worked fine, so far, touch wood etc. Conversely, there's stuff I've bought in shops that was defective, so I can't really say that one is better than the other.

B, I prefer shopping in a real shop, it's just more FUN, but for obscure stuff, what can you do?