Extreme concentration of ownership in the United States

Author: Jon Hellevig May 13, 2019

A close-knit oligarchy controls all major corporations. Monopolization of ownership in US economy fast approaching Soviet levels

Starting with Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the US government willingly decided to ignore the anti-trust laws so that corporations would have free rein to set up monopolies. With each successive president the monopolistic concentration of business and shareholding in America has grown precipitously eventually to reach the monstrous levels of the present day.

Today’s level of monopolistic concentration is of such unprecedented levels that we may without hesitation designate the US economy as a giant oligopoly. From economic power follows political power, therefore the economic oligopoly translates into a political oligarchy. (It seems, though, that the transformation has rather gone the other way around, a ferocious set of oligarchs have consolidated their economic and political power beginning from the turn of the twentieth century). The conclusion that the US is an oligarchy finds support in a 2014 by a Princeton University study.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction.

In a later report, we will demonstrate how all sectors of the US economy have fallen prey to monopolization and how the corporate oligopoly has been set up across the country. This post essentially serves as an appendix to that future report by providing the shocking details of the concentration of corporate ownership. Apart from illustrating the monopolization at the level of shareholding of the major investors and corporations, we will in a follow-up post take a somewhat closer look at one particularly fatal aspect of this phenomenon, namely the consolidation of media (posted simultaneously with the present one) in the hands of absurdly few oligarch corporations. In there, we will discuss the monopolies of the tech giants and their ownership concentration together with the traditional media because they rightfully belong to the same category directly restricting speech and the distribution of opinions in society.

In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). To achieve these goals, it has been crucial for the oligarchs to control and direct the narrative on economy and war, on all public discourse on social affairs. By seizing the media, the oligarchs have created a monstrous propaganda machine, which controls the opinions of the majority of the US population.

We use the words ‘monopoly,’ ‘monopolies,’ and ‘monopolization’ in a broad sense and subsume under these concepts all kinds of market dominance be it by one company or two or a small number of companies, that is, oligopolies. At the end of the analysis, it is not of great importance how many corporations share in the market dominance, rather what counts is the death of competition and the position enabling market abuse, either through absolute dominance, collusion, or by a de facto extinction of normal market competition. Therefore we use the term ‘monopolization’ to describe the process of reaching a critical level of non-competition on a market. Correspondingly, we may denote ‘monopoly companies’ two corporations of a duopoly or several of an oligopoly.

Horizontal shareholding – the cementation of the oligarchy

One especially perfidious aspect of this concentration of ownership is that the same few institutional investors have acquired undisputable control of the leading corporations in practically all the most important sectors of industry. The situation when one or several investors own controlling or significant shares of the top corporations in a given industry (business sector) is referred to as horizontal shareholding. (*1). In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies.

A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2).

Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America’s 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America’s largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4).

Blackrock had as of 2016 $6.2 trillion worth of assets under management, Vanguard $5.1 trillion, whereas State Street has dropped to a distant third with only $1 trillion in assets. This compares with a total market capitalization of US stocks according to Russell 3000 of $30 trillion at end of 2017 (From 2016 to 2017, the Big Three has of course also put on assets).Blackrock and Vanguard would then alone own more than one-third of all US publicly listed shares.

From an expanded sample that includes the 3,000 largest publicly listed corporations (Russell 3000 index), institutions owned (2016) about 78% of the equity.

The speed of concentration the US economy in the hands of institutions has been incredible. Still back in 1950s, their share of the equity was 10%, by 1980 it was 30% after which the concentration has rapidly grown to the present day approximately 80%. (*5). Another study puts the present (2016) stock market capitalization held by institutional investors at 70%. (*6). (The slight difference can possibly be explained by variations in the samples of companies included).

As a result of taking into account the common ownership at investor level, it emerges that the US economy is yet much more monopolized than it was previously thought when the focus had been on the operational business corporation alone detached from their owners. (*7).

The Oligarch owners assert their control

Apologists for monopolies have argued that the institutional investors who manage passive capital are passive in their own conduct as shareholders as well. (*8).  Even if that would be true it would come with vastly detrimental consequences for the economy as that would mean that in effect there would be no shareholder control at all and the corporate executives would manage the companies exclusively with their own short-term benefits in mind, inevitably leading to corruption and the loss of the common benefits businesses on a normally functioning competitive market would bring.  In fact, there seems to have been a period in the US economy – before the rapid monopolization of the last decade -when such passive investors had relinquished control to the executives. (*9). But with the emergence of the Big Three investors and the astonishing concentration of ownership that does not seem to hold water any longer. (*10). In fact, there need not be any speculation about the matter as the monopolist owners are quite candid about their ways. For example, BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink sends out an annual guiding letter to his subject, practically to all the largest firms of the US and increasingly also Europe and the rest of the West.  In his pastoral, the CEO shares his view of the global conditions affecting business prospects and calls for companies to adjust their strategies accordingly. The investor will eventually review the management’s strategic plans for compliance with the guidelines. Effectively, the BlackRock CEO has in this way assumed the role of a giant central planner, rather like the Gosplan, the central planning agency of the Soviet command economy.

The 2019 letter (referenced above) contains this striking passage, which should quell all doubts about the extent to which BlackRock exercises its powers:

"As we seek to build long-term value for our clients through engagement, our aim is not to micromanage a company’s operations. Instead, our primary focus is to ensure board accountability for creating long-term value. However, a long-term approach should not be confused with an infinitely patient one. When BlackRock does not see progress despite ongoing engagement, or companies are insufficiently responsive to our efforts to protect our clients’ long-term economic interests, we do not hesitate to exercise our right to vote against incumbent directors or misaligned executive compensation."

Considering the striking facts rendered above, we should bear in mind that the establishment of this virtually absolute oligarch ownership over all the largest corporations of the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. We should therefore expect that the centralized control and centralized planning will rapidly grow in extent as the power is asserted and methods are refined.

Most of the capital of those institutional investors consists of so-called passive capital, that is, such cases of investments where the investor has no intention of trying to achieve any kind of control of the companies it invests in, the only motivation being to achieve as high as possible a yield. In the overwhelming majority of the cases the funds flow into the major institutional investors, which invest the money at their will in any corporations. The original investors do not retain any control of the institutional investors, and do not expect it either. Technically the institutional investors like BlackRock and Vanguard act as fiduciary asset managers. But here’s the rub, while the people who commit their assets to the funds may be considered as passive investors, the institutional investors who employ those funds are most certainly not.

Cross-ownership of oligarch corporations

To make matters yet worse, it must be kept in mind that the oligopolistic investors in turn are frequently cross-owned by each other. (*11).  In fact, there is no transparent way of discovering who in fact controls the major institutional investors.

One of the major institutional investors, Vanguard is ghost owned insofar as it does not have any owners at all in the traditional sense of the concept. The company claims that it is owned by the multiple funds that it has itself set up and which it manages. This is how the company puts it on their home page: “At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders—including you, if you're a Vanguard fund investor.” At the end of the analysis, it would then seem that Vanguard is owned by Vanguard itself, certainly nobody should swallow the charade that those funds stuffed with passive investor money would exercise any ownership control over the superstructure Vanguard. We therefore assume that there is some group of people (other than the company directors) that have retained the actual control of Vanguard behind the scenes (perhaps through one or a few of the funds). In fact, we believe that all three (BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) are tightly controlled by a group of US oligarchs (or more widely transatlantic oligarchs), who prefer not to brandish their power. It is beyond the scope of this study and our means to investigate this hypothesis, but whatever, it is bad enough that as a proven fact these three investor corporations wield this control over most of the American economy. We also know that the three act in concert wherever they hold shares. (*12).

Now, let’s see who are the formal owners of these institutional investors

In considering these ownership charts, please, bear in mind that we have not consistently examined to what degree the real control of one or another company has been arranged through a scheme of issuing different classes of shares, where a special class of shares give vastly more voting rights than the ordinary shares. One source asserts that 355 of the companies in the Russell index consisting of the 3000 largest corporations employ such a dual voting-class structure, or 11.8% of all major corporations.

We have mostly relied on www.stockzoa.com for the shareholder data. However, this and other sources tend to list only the so-called institutional investors while omitting corporate insiders and other individuals. (We have no idea why such strange practice is employed.) 

The reader may easily verify the shareholder structures by online queries, for example, in Yahoo or DuckDuckGo by search words like “who owns Apple” or “who owns Apple stockzoa” (to direct to the source).

We do not have an ownership table of Vanguard Group as it is not a publicly listed company and is essentially ghost owned as rendered above.


Tepper reports (*13) that nearly 25% of all the major banks are owned by just a few major asset managers. The below table illustrates (per 2016) how these oligarch structures have taken control of the US banking sector. (*14).  

Big Pharma

Here is a look at the ownership structure of five of the biggest pharmaceutical corporations. Same pattern.


The same pathology of ownership holds true for pharmacies as illustrated by below table (2016). (Source: Azar et al. 2018, cited above).



The military-industrial complex

Surprise, surprise. Look who owns the military-industrial complex. 


Automobile manufacturers


Between 2013 and 2015, the seven shareholders who controlled 60% of United Airlines also controlled 28% of Delta, 27% of JetBlue, and 23% of Southwest. Together these airlines have over half of domestic market share. (*15).

Below table shows the oligarch ownership of the already oligopolist airlines. (Source: Azar et al. 2018, cited above).


Some other major corporations 

Concentration of media, telecommunications and Internet in the hands of the oligarchy

In a follow-up article to the present one (the two published in parallel), I have disclosed the incredible degree of concentration of ownership in the media, including all the digital means of communication. I would refer the reader further to that post, in the meanwhile, I will share here some of the ownership charts from that article.




*1. See, for example, Elhauge, Einer R., Horizontal Shareholding (March 10, 2016). 109 Harvard Law Review 1267 (2016); Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 16-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2632024 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2632024.

*2. See, Elhauge, Einer, New Evidence, Proofs, and Legal Theories on Horizontal Shareholding (January 2018). Harvard Law School, Discussion Paper No. 944. http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/olin_center/papers/pdf/Elhauge_944.pdf

*3. See, for example, How Big a Problem Is It That a Few Shareholders Own Stock in So Many Competing Companies? Jacob Greenspon, Harvard Business Review, February, 2019 https://hbr.org/2019/02/how-big-a-problem-is-it-that-a-few-shareholders-own-stock-in-so-many-competing-companies.

*4. See, Anton, Miguel and Ederer, Florian and Gine, Mireia and Schmalz, Martin C., Common Ownership, Competition, and Top Management Incentives (June 1, 2018). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1328; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) - Finance Working Paper No. 511/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2802332 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2802332

*5. See, Azar, Jose, A New Look at Oligopoly: Implicit Collusion Through Portfolio Diversification (November 8, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1993364 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1993364.

*6. Azar, José, Portfolio Diversification, Market Power, and the Theory of the Firm (March 2017). IESE Working Paper WP-1170-E. https://media.iese.edu/research/pdfs/WP-1170-E.pdf

*7.See, Anton, Miguel and Ederer, Florian and Gine, Mireia and Schmalz, Martin C., Common Ownership, Competition, and Top Management Incentives (June 1, 2018). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1328; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) - Finance Working Paper No. 511/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2802332 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2802332.

*8.See e.g. discussion in Fichtner, Jan and Heemskerk, Eelke M. and Garcia-Bernardo, Javier, Hidden Power of the Big Three? Passive Index Funds, Re-Concentration of Corporate Ownership, and New Financial Risk (February 7, 2017). Business and Politics, April 2017, DOI: 10.1017/bap.2017.6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798653.

*9. See discussion in Fichtner, Jan and Heemskerk, Eelke M. and Garcia-Bernardo, Javier, Hidden Power of the Big Three? Passive Index Funds, Re-Concentration of Corporate Ownership, and New Financial Risk (February 7, 2017). Business and Politics, April 2017, DOI: 10.1017/bap.2017.6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798653

*10. Fichtner, Jan and Heemskerk, Eelke M. and Garcia-Bernardo, Javier, Hidden Power of the Big Three? Passive Index Funds, Re-Concentration of Corporate Ownership, and New Financial Risk (February 7, 2017). Business and Politics, April 2017, DOI: 10.1017/bap.2017.6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798653.

*11. See, for example, Greenspon, Jacob  How Big a Problem Is It That a Few Shareholders Own Stock in So Many Competing Companies? (February 2019). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/02/how-big-a-problem-is-it-that-a-few-shareholders-own-stock-in-so-many-competing-companies.

*12. See, e.g. Fichtner, Jan and Heemskerk, Eelke M. and Garcia-Bernardo, Javier, Hidden Power of the Big Three? Passive Index Funds, Re-Concentration of Corporate Ownership, and New Financial Risk (February 7, 2017). Business and Politics, April 2017, DOI: 10.1017/bap.2017.6. Available atSSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798653

*13. Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, The Myth of Capitalism – Monopolies and the Death of Competition (November, 20180). Wiley.

*14. Source: Azar, José and Schmalz, Martin C. and Tecu, Isabel, Anticompetitive Effects of Common Ownership (May 10, 2018). Journal of Finance, 73(4), 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2427345 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2427345

*15. Source: Greenspon, Jacob, How Big a Problem Is It That a Few Shareholders Own Stock in So Many Competing Companies? (February 2019). Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2019/02/how-big-a-problem-is-it-that-a-few-shareholders-own-stock-in-so-many-competing-companies



The Oligarch Takeover of US Media

Author: Jon Hellevig May 13, 2019


Back in 1983, 50 corporations controlled most of the American media, but by 1992 the number had dropped by half, and by 2000 there were left only 5 corporations wielding totalitarian control over the media. Their control covers all the means for expression of speech and ideas: television, movies, radio, books, music, news feeds. Those figures refer to everything except for print media, newspapers and magazines, which would add a couple of more oligarchs to the small group of media controlling owners. Some of the Big Five media corporations are in themselves also print media owners.

The present article follows on my article on the extreme concentration of ownership in general in the United States, which was published in parallel with the present one. That article illustrates how the ownership of all America’s major corporations has been concentrated in incredibly few hands. To make matters worse, those business corporations (in themselves oligopolies) are as a rule owned by the same set of investors, which in turn are cross-owned by each other (oligopolistic investors). There then is a situation where oligopolies own oligopolies.

What was said above about the extreme concentration of ownership obviously also holds true for the media (including print). I reported there that institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America’s 500 largest corporations. (*1). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America’s largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. These same institutional investors largely control the media, television, film, publishing, telecommunications and Internet, as it will be shown below. (*2). 

In media there is therefore ultimately the situation that just a few persons hold the power over the entire media. We do not have the means to untangle the whole web of control connections to get to the ultimate few. However, what I present here should be damning enough. This report shows beyond any doubt that an incredibly small group of oligarchs have amassed all the most important media assets in the United States. Whether the ultimate owners are a yet smaller group than it would seem at this first glance does not alter the picture to any significant degree. What is clear is that just a few oligarchs now have the means to exercise a totalitarian control over speech and ideas in the United States (and increasingly globally, too). In this connection, I will not digress into a substantial discussion of how this totalitarian control manifests itself. For now suffice to allude to the multitude of instances when the media has through systematic campaigns of propaganda for war coerced the political leaders to declare wars (or to wage undeclared wars): Iraq, Libya, Syria, to mention just a few relatively recent ones. The continuous vilification of Russia’s President Putin and Russia as a nation is another of their campaigns of war propaganda. More recently, similar patterns of vilification have been extended to the treatment of China and its President Xi. The Russia hoax, that is, the attempted coup against US President Trump by alleging his election campaign colluded with Russia, was founded in totalitarian media lies. Other examples of agendas that the media pursue by way of abusing their monopoly on expression include a one-sided fact-free propagation of climate change alarmism and gender identity politics to the extent of denying obvious biological facts. These were but a few examples of the totally agenda-driven reporting by the concentrated oligarch media. In an article where he maintains that “America is a dictatorship by its super-rich,” American writer and investigative historian Eric Zuesse maintains that the US regime has elevated propaganda lies to the role of primary means of coercion, obviously seconded by its ample use of violence both domestically and around the globe. It is through this incredible concentration of media that the regime has achieved a virtual monopoly on lies, which it employs to justify and varnish that violence.

National Amusements

The biggest media owners are Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, the oligarch Rupert Murdoch, with News Corp and Fox Corporation, the oligarch Sumner Redstone via his National Amusements Inc., which holds both Viacom Inc.CBS Corporation, and Warner Media (owned by AT&T),

Comcast – a former General Electric subsidiary – owns among other assets NBC and the British based Sky TV. It provides consumer cable television, telephone, internet, and wireless services under the brand name Xfinity. Comcast is America’s largest provider of cable internet access servicing 40% of the market. The film studio Universal Pictures (aka Universal Studios) is a NBC subsidiary. The major shareholders of Comcast are listed in below table. (The shareholder data in this and other tables are sourced, when other source not mentioned, from www.stockzoa.com).

The Walt Disney Company is the world’s largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue. It’s original asset is the Walt Disney Studios and Disney theme parks. Over the years it has added on among others, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, ABC broadcast network, ESPN, National Geographic network, and several other cable TVs. Disney like all the other media oligopolists are also involved in publishing and many other fields of business.

Walt Disney acquired the Fox Entertainment Group (including 20th Century Fox film studio) and National Geographic Partners from 21st Century Fox which had come to being after News Corporation was split in 2013.


In connection with the split of the original News Corporation and the sale of above mentioned assets to Walt Disney, two other companies emerged. These are Fox Corporation and the new News Corp, both controlled by the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Fox Corporations owns the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Television Stations, and Fox News. The assets of News Corp include Dow Jones & Company (publisher of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, News UK (publisher of The Sun and The Times), News Corp Australia, Realtor.com and HarperCollins.

Viacom Inc. and CBS Corporation are both controlled by the oligarch Sumner Redstone through his National Amusements Inc. Redstone has cemented his control of those corporations through an arrangement where the oligarch owns the so-called Class A or voting shares whereas the other investors keep the Class B common stock, whose voting rights are severely curtailed.  As of December 2016, National Amusements (and it’s not funny), directly and through subsidiaries, held 79.8% of the Class A voting shares of Viacom Inc., corresponding to only 10% of the overall equity. In CBS Corporations, National Amusements, held 79.5% of the Class A voting shares and 2.4% of the Class B non‐voting shares, which constituted 9.1% of the overall equity.

In the case of Viacom, Redstone’s National Amusements holds 10% of the total equity by which he wields control over the resting 90%. In CBS Corporation National Amusement controls the company with 9% of total equity.

Viacom consists of Viacom Media Networks (owner of MTV) and Paramount Pictures and operates approximately 170 networks reaching 700 million subscribers in 160 countries.

CBS Corporation operates television broadcasting stations (CBS and CW), TV production and distribution, publishing (Simon & Schuster), cable TV and recording operations.

Warner Media is currently owned by AT&T. The company has film, television, cable and publishing operations. It owns CNN and the Cartoon Network. Its assets include also Warner Bros. one of the major film producers with also television and video games; HBO cable and satellite TV operations with 130 million subscribers.


AT&T is also the largest American telecommunications company and second largest provider of mobile telephone (wireless telecommunication) services after Verizon.

What about print media

Some of the major print media outlets – newspapers, magazines and their digital sites – are still held outside the above listed media conglomerates. To some extent their controlling shareholders are another set of oligarchs while they also are cross-owned by the same oligarchs as above.

After its acquisition of Time Inc. in 2018, Meredith Corporation became the largest print media publisher with assets including a multitude of magazines with a readership of more than 120 million, paid circulation being 40 million copies. It also operates 15 television stations which reach 11% of American households. After everything we already reported, the ownership structure of Meredith Corporation should not surprise anybody, as per below chart.


The second largest American newspaper publisher is Gannett Co., Inc. It’s portfolio includes USA Today and a number of regional newspapers. The company is publicly traded and owned by the oligarchy’s institutional investors.

Among the top 4 print media publishers are also McClatchy Company operating 29 daily newspapers in fourteen states, and the Tribune Publishing Company, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and many regional and local newspapers. McClatchy Company is owned by Comcast, AT&T, major oligarchy banks and the usual suspects of institutional investors: BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan etc. Tribune is held by the business magnate Michael W. Ferro.

The New York Times is owned by the same line up of the US oligarchy.


The other of America’s major newspapers have been assigned to the care of individual members of the US oligarchy. Time magazine – with the world’s largest news magazine circulation – is held by Marc Benioff. The Washington Post has been parked with the Amazon oligarch Jeff Bezos. The Los Angeles Times is owned by tycoon Patrick Soon-Shiong.

News agencies

To add to the already dismal picture of media concentration, we must also realize that most of American media – and Western media in general (increasingly the whole world) - rely heavily on newsfeeds coming from only three news agencies with a global presence. These are Associated Press (AP, USA), Reuters (UK), Agence France-Press (AFP, France).

Associated Press is structured as a not-for-profit organization directly controlled by the already listed media conglomerates. Reuters is owned by Thomson Reuters Corporation, which is ultimately owned by the Canadian oligarch Thomson family. AFP is nominally owned by the French state but it operates as a commercial business with strong neoliberal leanings.

In economy and business news a substantial source is also Bloomberg L.P. owned by the oligarch Michael Bloomberg.

In the old days with much more media plurality, the more solid newspapers would employ a vast network of overseas correspondents. Many of them where in-house journalists organized as the paper’s foreign bureaus. In the old times, by having access to the reporting of a vast number of journalist representing competing media outlets and different ideologies, active readers could stay well-informed about global events. But during the last two decades, most media outlets have dramataically cut down on their overseas staff. This has been driven by cost-cutting efforts and has also come as an inherent consequence of the concentration, the oligarch owners have figured they do not need separate bureaus for the different media outlets they own. I assume that the reasons are even more sinister than those and infer that the large scale reduction has happened in conspiracy between the media controlling oligarchs as a means to facilitate propaganda: the less correspondents out there in the wide world, the less the risk that the truth about global affairs would slip out potentially ruining the carefully crafted propaganda narratives. For this purpose it is much better to have global reporting concentrated in the hands of the three agencies and State Department officials. (The flip side of this is however that there are less opportunities to post intelligence agents abroad under the cover of journalists).

A Washington Post blogger reported that the American Journalism review had in 2011 exposed that 18 of the major US newspapers had closed every one of their foreign bureaus over the preceding 12 years. The same source told that most of the remaining “bureaus” in fact only consisted of a single journalist posted abroad. (Even more likely that nobody was “posted abroad” and that the newspaper only relied on locally based freelancers).

The harrowing outcome of all this is that the typical modern-day citizen consumer of media reporting has less access to the truth than one would have had a hundred years ago. This is truly mind gobbling when we consider our today’s extensive networks of affordable air transportation and the enormous opportunities for exchange of information offered by online technology. Only those who are willing to invest their time in finding out the real state of affairs through alternative Internet based information resources can possible stay neutrally informed. This is precisely why those in power have moved so forcefully against dissident sources on the Internet. They are adamant to patch up that crack in the propaganda wall.

Cable and wireless

The wireless communication service and cable internet providers are the gatekeepers to the Internet. And they are all also owned by the oligarchy. Although they – in their roles as Internet providers – do not produce content, they carry content and communication. (We must also keep in mind that these corporations are largely cross-owned by the same set of oligarchs.) The problem is that in this capacity they tend to interfere with that and discriminate against content and communication they do not like, by blocking, or by charging more, or by slowing down the traffic they do not like. Some providers have openly stated that as their policy, some are doing it without acknowledging it, many have been caught, and then denied.   The fact is that they do interfere and the worst is that this tight knit-class of oligarchs have a means to interfere on this severely concentrated market at their will when the urge emerges. In addition to interference on political grounds, these internet providers also give preferences to some business clients and penalize others in service packages that distort competition. All the internet service providers are also known to willingly share all client data and communication with the US spy agencies, most notably the National Security Agency (NAS) and the CIA without even a simulacrum of legality and due process.

The top 4 wireless telecommunication providers (2018) are:

  • Verizon, 9 million subscribers
  • AT&T, 153.0 million
  • T-Mobile, 79,7 million (owned by the German Deutsche Telekom)
  • Sprint Corporation, 53.5 million

Below the Verizon ownership table. AT&T was already presented above. T-Mobile is owned by the German Deutsche Telekom and Sprint by Japanese SoftBank.


The companies that control the cable internet market are AT&T, Comcast (Xfinity), Charter Communications (Spectrum, Optimum), Verizon, CenturyLink. Most of these oligarch structures are already known to us from above. Below we give the charts for the two not presented above, Charter Communications and CenturyLink.


After its 2016 acquisition of Time Warner’s cable divisions, Charter Communications and Comcast have gained a virtual duopoly of the broadband market of 25Mbps and more, the two Internet service providers could control about 70 percent of the nation's 25Mbps-and-up broadband subscriptions.

Google, Facebook and other tech giants’ digital monopolies

The tech giants form one more set of noxious monopolists infringing on freedom of speech and the free distribution of ideas. These are in particular the Big Four: Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. They have each established uncontested monopolies in their respective sectors, with the exception of Apple who controls the mobile phone market in a duopoly with Google’s Android based platforms. Through their monopolistic dominance over their respective markets they abuse both political and economic freedoms. They accomplish that by restricting the free flow of opinions and business information both on the level of the individual - by directly interfering in a person’s choices and abilities to express opinions - as well as on a system level by deciding what visibility, if any – based on the tech giants’ preferences - media content producers, business enterprises, and political groups are allowed to have.

It is not the purpose of the present report to give a full account about the pernicious monopolies of the tech giants. That is an enormous topic in itself, which would require its own specialized literature. My aim is here only to outline the general contours of that plague in order to alert the readers to the dark side of the hipster technology, which the non-reflecting public may take to be brought to us by cool young tech entrepreneurs laden with all kinds of benign capitalist values. For a substantial introduction to that topic, I recommend Jonathan Tepper’s seminal The Myth of Capitalism – Monopolies and the Death of Competition. (My report was prompted by the ideas derived from Tepper’s book. The book was first published in November 2018 and the facts are largely up to date by that year. Many of the references in the present report come from sources, which I have discovered through Tepper and following the sources he provided. Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, 2018. Wiley).

Owners of the tech giants



Systematic predatory monopolies

Through its search engine, Google has carved out for itself a 90% market share in US online search activities. Apple and Google share a global duopoly in phone operating systems with a 99% market share, as globally all major phone manufacturers, apart from Apple, use Google’s Android operating system. By abusing these two monopolies Google has also been able to capture a 66% market share for its Google Chrome browser.  This monopolistic exploitation has culminated in Google grabbing 76% of the online search advertising market, while Facebook controls 80% of social media advertising. (Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, 2018.) The combined share of Google and Facebook amounted to 60% of the $129 billion digital ad market (2018). A third monopolist, Amazon has been able to bite into the revenues of the duopoly, by capturing 6.8% of that revenue. In reality, however, Amazon has just crafted a new monopoly segment for itself as it is charging companies for promoting their products on Amazon’s own marketplaces, which have reached hegemonistic dominance in e-commerce, where Amazon has a 43% market share, whereas its monopoly in book sales has reached 75% (as of 2018; see Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, 2018). Digital ad spending already makes up about half of all US advertisement spending, with a rising trend.

One striking feature of Google’s stranglehold on global business comes in form of its Google Play app store. Google has tied the Android mobile operating system - which runs 85% of the world’s smartphones - to its app store, which effectively allows the corporation to decide which apps and which product offers the consumer may access. The significance of Google’s app store is that no phone that is powered by the Android operating system can download and run any application – for example a taxi service, a messaging service, a cloud storing service, games, a language course – if it hasn’t previously been allowed to be listed in Google Play.

According to Tepper, over 45% of Americans get their news from Facebook and 25% from Google. This has put these two oligarch corporations in the position of gatekeepers to what news people are allowed to see. By abusing their monopoly powers they and their owners have become fabulously rich as they cannibalize on all the traditional media corporations and other online platforms in all forms of media content: news, political analysis, comedy, music, etc. All the costs, the entire financial burden weighs on those content producers, while the tech giants rob the profits. Not only do they steal the content from the lawful producers, but they also regulate what can be seen by whom. Having trapped the publishers and creators to share their content on Facebook, the monopolist is now even forcing them to pay for simply appearing on Facebook, an option few can decline considering its dominance.

It’s not all about sleek commercial strategies, in fact, these tech giants are known to go as far as employing traditional methods of theft by simply stealing content from competitors and placing that on the sites of their own or affiliated companies. (Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise. 2018. page 95). Tepper reports that when competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, it threatened to make them disappear completely – a classic offer you cannot refuse (Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, page 95).  Google does not even have any qualms about extracting revenue from pirated content willingly allowing such to appear on its YouTube video-sharing web platform. Amazon’s business model is similarly built on pimping for pirated goods. (Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise). Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes recently argued that “When it hasn’t acquired its way to dominance, Facebook has used its monopoly position to shut out competing companies or has copied their technology.”

As the case is with their political censorship and propaganda (more on this below), the tech giants use the same range of pernicious practices - blocking, making disappear, demoting, and propagating – in their commercial endeavors. Originally Google was a search platform, but it has since become an investor in totally different kinds of businesses and started selling products of its own. To secure its investments and to promote its own products Google abuses its monopoly by directing these monopoly tools to destroy its competitors and partners commercially in favor of its own products and services and in favor of its privileged advertisement customers. One of the tricks Google uses is to have its Chrome browser block certain types of online advertisements, particularly of those of its competitors.  Federal investigators have discovered and documented that Google used a special search algorithm to manipulate its search results in order to boost the placement of its own products. The investigators’ report also confirmed the widely known fact that Google habitually engaged in the practice of scraping and copying content from competitors’ websites.

Tepper documents the case of Foundem.com which was destroyed by Google, because it competed with the corporations similar service. (Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, 2018, page 87). Foundem.com was a website dedicated to find the best prices online. As soon as the founders had their service up and running users were rushing to their site, but after the second day they discovered to their amazement that the flow of visitors stopped completely as if a gate had been closed. And that is precisely what had happened. Google had shut the gate on the users trying to enter Foundem.com by making the site disappear from search results. The site was removed from Google’s organic search results but on top of that Google also blocked the owners from purchasing ad placements via Google AdWords. The reason was clear, Google had its own competing product search site. Tepper stresses that Google was regularly engaged in this kind of predatory abuse of its monopoly.

The case of Amazon shows how every monopolist will abuse its dominance once it controls the market. Amazon started as an online seller of books. The corporation soon achieved an absolute dominance in book sales, today controlling 75% of the US market. On the strength of its book dominance, Amazon expanded to other product categories, now having a decisive 43% market share of e-commerce. Amazon functions as both a direct seller of products but also as a platform for other online sellers. With its overwhelming dominance, showing up as the top site in most of e-commerce searches other sellers cannot avoid joining the platform. And that’s where the abuse starts. Amazon allows – in what is called “modern-day piracy” - counterfeit products to be sold on its platform with ruinous consequences for the original brand owners. Further Amazon – the giant pirate as it is - tracks third-party sales on its site and uses that data to sell the most popular items in direct competition. (Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, 2018, page 104).

Google shaping an alternative reality

By the original idea, Google would have been a program helping people to find information on the web, but as soon as Google had monopolized the search market, the corporation moved to control the search results. This has resulted in Google censoring ideas and opinions across the spectrum of public discourse: political, religious, moral, scientific, etc.

There are several layers of bias and manipulation in Google’s search results. It starts with an inherent American cultural bias. On top of this comes an ideological bias based on American liberal (so-called) values and the globalist agenda. The corporation also customizes (filtering and censoring) the search results and newsfeeds to bias them according to the user’s personal profile that Google surmises from all the personal preferences of the user drawn by illegally recording users’ Google activities. Multiple studies have found that Google provides unique, different, search results for identical queries depending on the user’s browsing history or the particular device used. In a traditional encyclopedia any user would have found the precisely same information on the same page, but Google has destroyed the objectivity and feeds a different reality to everybody, the more it is a reality that Google has manufactured and prescribed for the user.

Yet, another level of manipulation and bias in Google search results is added with the corporation outright censoring individuals and organization who express opinions about politics and other topics which do not correspond to the globalist agenda that Google peddles. This censoring happens by way of demoting or de-ranking those individuals and organizations so that the search algorithms do not show sources pertaining to them in search results. Political opposition and dissent are increasingly openly being blocked from Google in what amounts to modern day book burnings, for example political commentators being wholesale banned from its YouTube video service.

Facebook’s memory hole

All what was here said about Google holds largely true for Facebook, too. In a similar vein Facebook’s totally opaque algorithms determine what posts are viewed and which not. Facebook – just like Google – make people and groups disappear – rather the same way the Bolsheviks used to retouch old photos to blot out the existence of people who had fallen foul of the party leadership. Another analogy which cannot be missed in this connection is that of the concept memory hole popularized by George Orwell in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. In that novel the Party’s Ministry of Truth systematically and continuously re-created historical documents in order to adjust the past to their present political exigencies. With Google and Facebook the fearful and dehumanized world of Orwell’s novel can no longer be regarded as a dystopia but a life foretold. Add the insight from Ray Bradbury’s book from 1953 Fahrenheit 451 and you’ll have a pretty good description of present-day life under the US media conglomerates and their globalist agenda. Following these dystopian antecedents, the present day surreality is nicely illustrated by Facebook covering up its massive online repression with references to its homely sounding “Community Standards.” No community of Facebook users have ever had a say in setting up such supposed standards. They are nothing but vague formulations of a set of supposed values designed to serve as references to the entirely vague formulations by which the corporation motivates its systematic arbitrary censorship activities and online purge of dissent.

One of the methods of the tech censors is so-called ‘shadow banning.’ In this method the person (or a particular post) is not totally removed from the service while Facebook restricts the visibility of that person. The user sees himself and his posts, but others will not, or only a very limited number of followers would.

Google and Facebook are globalist tools

At the end of the analysis, Google and Facebook are no independent actors, as it has been showed in this article, they form part of the cross-owned media conglomerates eventually controlled by the same 0.01% oligarchs. Therefore it must not come as any surprise that these tech corporations have admitted that they engage in mass censorship by demoting in this way content from media that challenge the globalist hegemony, most notably Russia’s RT and Sputnik (for spreading “disinformation” aka information that contests the US global hegemony agenda) as well as American dissidents for “hate speech” aka information that contests the globalist agenda.  Their censoring is much more sinister than they want to admit, whereas the admissions must be seen as mere public acknowledgements that the tech giants toe the party line.

Just as there is suppression of dissent and censorship, these two tech giants correspondingly run enormous and continuous propaganda campaigns to promote the globalist agenda. This is achieved by doing the opposite to the censoring, promoting people, groups and sources which propagate the agenda.

Tech giants subcontracting for intelligence agencies

One more devastating outcome of the tech giants’ monopolies is that they employ their predatory powers in the service of American spy agencies essentially acting as their subcontractors. They harvest untold amounts of personal information on their users: contact data, health matters, political and sexual preferences, the whole browsing history, every like and dislike, the network of friends and acquaintances, religious and scientific beliefs, recordings of calls. Everything. This data they use for their commercial purposes and to advance the globalist political agendas, as well as giving full access to all that to the intelligence agencies.

Time to break up Google and Facebook

The hegemonic dominance of these tech giants is all the more frustrating when we realize that it has been achieved through blatant abuse of monopoly in collusion with the formal government. Tepper gives a lucid exposition of the genesis and nature of these predatory monopolies in the already cited book ((Tepper, Jonathan, Hearn, Denise, 2018). In there we can read about the ideological origins of monopolization of the US economy propagated by failed neoliberal economists and embraced by political actors since the fatal presidency of Ronald Reagan. The US establishment has been on it ever since the 1980s. It seems to me that this has been part of a deliberate long-term scheme to concentrate the economy under the core nucleus of the oligarchy. (This is a hypothesis, which I will return to in a later report). Tepper’s exposition reveals how the process of monopolization has been greatly abetted by corruption of government officials in response to satisfaction of the ordinary sort of pecuniary greed as well as the particular American plague of corrupting the political system with campaign donations in favor of candidates - of both establishment parties – who represent the oligarchy.

Regarding the monopolization of media, President Bill Clinton’s role was especially damning. Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act was the first to recognize the Internet as forming part of media broadcasting. This law represented a major neoliberal act of deregulation with the explicit intent to allow concentration of ownership of media and telecommunications. In particular, the act effectively removed the barriers to cross ownership and allowed giant corporations to buy up thousands of media outlets across the country. It seems to me that this was made for the explicit purpose of concentrating the media in the hands of the oligarchy in order for them to be unchallenged in propagating the ideology that has cemented their power and the wealth derived from it.

In essence, Google and Facebook should be considered as public utilities or even agencies which have usurped governmental powers over the Internet. According to formal US laws such corporations must be deemed illegal trusts in breach of civil and criminal law. They would need to be punitively fined, their owners and officers convicted, and the corporations broken up. But the formal political government of the United States does nothing about them. Perhaps the reason for the inaction is that the monopoly of the tech giants – together with that of the traditional media – very well suits the interests of the shadow government of the elite, the Deep State.

The calls to terminate the tech giants’ monopolies are gaining traction. For example, Chris Hughes who was a co-founder of Facebook has in a May 2019 op-ed in the New York Times called for the break-up of that social media behemoth.

Hughes suggests that Facebook should among other things be separated into multiple companies. This would include releasing Facebook Inc.’ two other communication platforms Instagram and WhatsApp into separate companies. The US Justice Department had in apparent breach of the anti-trust laws allowed Facebook to acquire those two platforms in 2012 (Instagram) and 2014 (WhatsApp). 


*1. Source: How Big a Problem Is It That a Few Shareholders Own Stock in So Many Competing Companies? Jacob Greenspon, Harvard Business Review, February, 2019. Available at: https://hbr.org/2019/02/how-big-a-problem-is-it-that-a-few-shareholders-own-stock-in-so-many-competing-companies 

*2. See Tepper, Jonathan, Hearne, Denise, The Myth of Capitalism – Monopolies and the Death of Competition (November, 2018). Wiley.



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Jon Hellevig

Jon Hellevig has worked with Russian law immediately since the start of market reforms in early 1990's. Having gained 5 years' experience as lawyer and CFO for American-Russian joint venture and subsequently worked as lawyer and CFO for Armstrong World Industries (Central and East Europe). Hellevig was the founding partner of what is now Hellevig, Klein & Usov, part of Awara Group.
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