Friday, December 03, 2004

Inside the Leviathan

More from the NYRB. Long article on the rise of Wal-Mart and it's blueprint for 21st Century Capitalism - PolPop

By Simon Head

Throughout the recent history of American capitalism there has always been one giant corporation whose size dwarfs that of all others, and whose power conveys to the world the strength and confidence of American capitalism itself. At mid-century General Motors was the undisputed occupant of this corporate throne. But from the late 1970s onward GM shrank in the face of superior Japanese competition and from having outsourced the manufacture of many car components to independent suppliers. By the millennium GM was struggling to maintain its lead over Ford, its longstanding rival.

With the technology boom of the 1990s, the business press began writing about Microsoft as if it were GM's rightful heir as the dominant American corporation. But despite its worldwide monopoly as the provider of software for personal computers, Microsoft has lacked the essential qualification of size. In Fortune's 2004 listings of the largest US corporations, Microsoft ranks a mere forty-sixth, behind such falling stars as AT&T and J.C. Penney. However, Fortune's 2004 rankings also reveal the clear successor to GM, Wal-Mart. In 2003 Wal-Mart was also Fortune's "most admired company.". . .


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