As part of the Stigler Center’s Political Economy of Covid-19 Series of online programming, which explores the economic and political implications of Covid-19 with leading academics and experts, we recently hosted a conversation between Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), and Chicago Booth professor Steven Kaplan on the impact of the crisis and its aftermath on Amazon and its competitors. The conversation was moderated by Wall Street Journal senior correspondent Jacob Schlesinger.
The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the pivotal role that Amazon currently plays in the US economy and American society. With millions of Americans sheltered at home and physical stores forced to temporarily close, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in Amazon’s sales—the company reported a 26 percent jump revenues in the last quarter—and to a hiring spree that saw the company hire 100,000 new works to keep up with growing demand.
Meanwhile, antitrust advocates and policymakers have expressed concerns that the crisis will strengthen Amazon’s hold over e-commerce and cloud-computing. The crisis has also highlighted issues regarding Amazon’s conduct toward its employees and the sellers on its platform.
To better understand how the Covid-19 crisis will affect Amazon, the Stigler Center recently hosted a conversation between Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), and Chicago Booth professor Steven Kaplan on the impact of the crisis and its aftermath on Amazon and its competitors. The conversation was moderated by Wall Street Journal senior correspondent Jacob Schlesinger.
Watch it here:
Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a broad range of allies to design and implement policies to reverse corporate concentration and strengthen local economies. Mitchell’s reports and articles about the dangers of concentrated economic power have influenced policymakers, journalists, and advocates. Her 2018 cover feature for The Nation, Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market, was described as an “essential piece of journalism” by Zephyr Teachout. Her in-depth report, Amazon’s Stranglehold, co-authored with Olivia LaVecchia, has drawn wide praise for illuminating the nature of the company‘s power and the scope of its impact. Her paper, Antitrust and the Decline of America’s Independent Businesses, was recognized in 2017 as part of the annual Jerry S. Cohen Award for Antitrust Scholarship. Mitchell has also written for The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Washington Monthly, and Wall Street Journal. She is also the author of the book Big-Box Swindle. As an advisor to policymakers and grassroots organizations, Mitchell has developed and helped enact city, state, and federal policies that level the playing field for independent businesses, curb corporate power, and strengthen communities. Mitchell was recently featured in the New York Times. @stacyfmitchell
Steven Neil Kaplan is the Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director at the Polsky Center at Booth. He conducts research on issues in private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance, and corporate finance. Kaplan is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an associate editor of the Journal of Financial Economics. He ranks among the top 100 in paper downloads and in paper citations (out of over 280,000 authors) on SSRN (Social Science Research Network). He is also the co-creator of the Kaplan-Scholar PME (Public Market Equivalent) private equity benchmarking approach. A Fortune Magazine article referred to him as “probably the foremost private equity scholar in the galaxy.” BusinessWeek named him one of the top 12 business school teachers in the country. Kaplan co-founded the entrepreneurship program at Booth. With his students, he helped start Booth’s business plan competition, the New Venture Challenge (NVC), which has spawned over two hundred companies that have raised over $1 billion and created over $10 billion in value including GrubHub, Braintree/Venmo, and Simple Mills. He also serves on the board of Morningstar.
Jacob M. Schlesinger (moderator) is a senior correspondent in The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau, covering the economic policy response to the coronavirus crisis, as well as economics in the 2020 campaign. He previously covered trade and globalization and served as the Journal’s global financial regulation editor, as well as deputy Washington bureau chief. He has spent the past quarter-century moving back and forth between Washington, DC and Tokyo for the Journal, where he most recently was Tokyo bureau chief and Japan editor. A graduate of Harvard with a degree in economics, Jake joined the Journal in 1986 in the Detroit bureau, writing about cars and organized labor. His beats over the years have also included the Federal Reserve, economic policy, and presidential politics. He is the author of Shadow Shoguns: The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Postwar Political Machine (Simon & Schuster). He was a member of the Journal team that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting and was awarded Stanford University’s 2014 Shorenstein Journalism Award for “outstanding reporting on Asia.” In 2018, Jake was a Stigler Center Journalist in Residence. @JMSchles
Top Photo by Andrew Mager, via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]