THE WOLF STREET REPORT: How Amazon Gains Control & Domination

Amazon takes over the last mile and everything else.

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  123 comments for “THE WOLF STREET REPORT: How Amazon Gains Control & Domination

  1. 2banana
    Dec 22, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    How will Amazon do it?

    “Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation.”

    Trailer:

  2. daniel weise
    Dec 22, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Great report of a predatory and aggressive business model Wolf. I wonder how this will fare in an economic downturn with consumers tightening their belts. granted,their “sub” contractors will eat it first yet Amazon will still be stuck with a massive warehouse/distribution system that needs to be financed. and who will deliver their crap after mom and pop delivery Van has been reprocessed ? this will be interesting to watch. my hunch is: the demise of USPS,FED EX and UPS may not be as imminent as it seems. i can see governments in the US and Europe riding to the rescue of established Employers and postal services. nobody likes a bully.

    • Dec 23, 2019 at 2:17 am

      Predatory and aggressive business model? And? All I see is a savant capitalist who’s winning. My hope is that Bezos will single-handedly wake people up to the fact that it is (gasp) not a fluke that businesses get bigger and more consolidated every year, it’s the no sh!t expression of capitalism’s DNA. But I doubt it. When enough connected businessmen get crushed they’ll join forces to villify Bezos for winning the Monopoly game THEY wanted to win.

      • Finster
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:52 pm

        With artificially cheap Federal Reserve subsidized capital. Amazon was able to sell stock for years without having profits, and still doesn’t pay a dividend. Stock buyers have little reason to demand it in a Fed engineered growth stock bubble. Mom and Pop couldn’t get capital anywhere near as cheap. With such heavy involvement of central planners an assumption that this has been a free market with a level playing field is hard to justify.

        • Jon
          Dec 23, 2019 at 3:44 pm

          He is also violating anti-trust law by moving money from AWS into retail. You are not allowed to cross subsidize to undercut competitors.

          Unfortunately there isn’t a single president who wishes to stop them.

        • Bobber
          Dec 24, 2019 at 10:43 pm

          Jon, I always wonder if it would be better for the government to enforce anti trust to stimulate the economy versus monkeying with interest rates. If you cut up a large Corp into pieces you have more jobs and innovation.

      • Dec 29, 2019 at 1:13 pm

        Amazon exists because, not in spite of the gravity of capitalism. Monopoly IS the goal of all capitalists, capitalists make the rules, ergo Amazon is the goal of capitalism. Not so?

    • John Hansen
      Dec 23, 2019 at 6:06 am

      Please bear in mind that the US Government took over all package delivery services in WW1- After the war, it became the Railway Express Agency. This lasted until well after WW2. The government does whatever the money power tells it to do. This is just one example of that principle. It happened before and it can happen again.

    • Iamafan
      Dec 23, 2019 at 6:24 am

      In the end, this is about buying close to junk, inferior quality (like Chinese brands that are either unpronounceable or too funny) versus buying the old reliable. One example is in the tool category. Doubt you can shop good Festool tools, Stihl equipment or Honda snowblowers in Amazon. Get ready to accept junk and frustration.

      • Boatwright
        Dec 23, 2019 at 11:04 am

        “Doubt you can shop good Festool tools, Stihl equipment or Honda snowblowers in Amazon.”

        Well, yes you can buy just about anything from Amazon including all the above. It should be noted that a big part of the Amazon business model is to offer everything. If they don’t have it, they provide a listing, shipping, and billing platform for smaller businesses to use.

        It should be noted however that as soon as the volume of sales of an item from one of these smaller outfits goes up, Amazon will stock the item at a lower price due to their ability to beat down the primary supplier/manufacturer and sell direct.

        Eliminating the middleman is as old as the original big-box idea. Lamenting the decline of main street gives us an excuse to cry over our beer, but who misses buggy whips and straw hats?

        The thing about monopoly that worries me is not efficiency, but the economic and political inequality that goes with it. Tax the socks off of Bezos so we can all share in the benefits.

        • flashlight joe
          Dec 23, 2019 at 11:35 am

          “Tax the socks off of Bezos so we can all share in the benefits.”

          Wrong way. Stop taxing jobs.

        • LizaJane
          Dec 23, 2019 at 5:42 pm

          You can buy anything on Amazon, but you may get a fake. Happened to me twice — I don’t buy from them anymore.

        • Lisa_Hooker
          Dec 24, 2019 at 9:48 am

          What civilized man doesn’t wear a boater twixt May and October? Way too many people running about undressed in the summer. Amazon has ’em.

        • Bobber
          Dec 24, 2019 at 10:51 pm

          Flashlight,

          Taxing Amazon is not taxing jobs. It’s taxing corporate profits. There’s a big difference between the two you haven’t explained.

    • JohnnySacks
      Dec 23, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      If there were any solidarity in this world, the entire delivery chain from warehouse down would have gone on strike 4-5 weeks ago and sat out the entire holiday season.

  3. Gordon
    Dec 22, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    Truly frightening. Thanks Wolf.

    • Dec 23, 2019 at 2:00 am

      It’s that husky voice. Makes him sounds like an actual wolf.

      • Mark
        Dec 23, 2019 at 9:44 am

        Well, that and way too much bottom EQ – He must have close to plus 6-8db around 200 hz – way too much.

        I have to turn my low frequency almost all the way off to listen to Wolf, then back up after I’m done. Totally worth it, though.

  4. illumined
    Dec 22, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Ultimately it comes down to whether or not Amazon can maintain its monopoly. Governments can break monopolies and there are currently anti-trust investigations going on, but it will take time and that’s if it even amounts to anything.

    Assuming nothing happens, or happens fast enough, on the government’s end, how can a market based solution break a monopoly like Amazon? Surely Amazon isn’t some kind of unbeatable leviathan……

    • roddy6667
      Dec 23, 2019 at 1:41 am

      Exactly. Five years ago I thought Walmart was an ustoppable juggernaut that would monopolize retail, groceries, and delivery. Now Walmart is fighting for market share. These models make products very cheap for the buyers, but make their employees not much better than the serfs of old.

      • Iamafan
        Dec 23, 2019 at 6:34 am

        That and the lack of quality. One thinks of Prime not as prime beef but having junk in your doorsteps next day. It’s a battle between junk and junkier between the two. At least in Walmart , you can opt to see touch and feel it first.

        • roddy6667
          Dec 23, 2019 at 6:57 am

          And at Walmart, you can go whale watching without driving to the sea.

        • Unamused
          Dec 23, 2019 at 8:03 am

          The dark side of online retail. Perhaps it’s by design. But at least it’s cheap and convenient – if the ad wasn’t a lie and your stuff actually gets to you, courtesy of slave labour up and down the supply chain.

          Boarded-up storefronts have a kind of genteel serenity to them, don’t they?

  5. Richard
    Dec 22, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Am I glad I moved out of that God-forsaken country ten years ago!

  6. Stan Sexton
    Dec 23, 2019 at 12:01 am

    Prop 5 will kill any Independent Contractor hopes for delivery business.

    • Stan Sexton
      Dec 23, 2019 at 12:02 am

      I meant AB 5

  7. Dec 23, 2019 at 12:11 am

    The gig-economy is a God-send for some;
    not everyone is forced into it.

    It’s the lower rungs of the ladder that
    “progressives” keep trying to remove.

    • Dec 23, 2019 at 1:52 am

      How is it a godsend?

      • Bobber
        Dec 24, 2019 at 11:09 pm

        In year 2,450 BC, people had to eat grubs to survive and walk all day to find them, so today’s poor are doing great. Sarc.

    • Dec 23, 2019 at 8:27 am

      “God send” is a well-understood colloquialism,
      Mr. “Unamused”. “God” is nature.

      Unless you’re already on top,
      there is no need to remove the lower rungs of the ladder.
      One can start out low, and climb higher.

      • Kent
        Dec 23, 2019 at 8:41 am

        Certainly possible, but statistically highly unlikely.

      • doug
        Dec 23, 2019 at 11:18 am

        the gig economy is a trap for most.
        Employment at will is a trap for most.
        Lower rungs blah blah blah

    • Grian
      Dec 23, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      This gig economy allows the Amazon’s of the world to offload their Social Security and liability cost onto the unsuspecting contractor. That’s the major “innovation” of Gig economy platforms. Sounds more like serfdom.

      • Lisa_Hooker
        Dec 24, 2019 at 10:08 am

        No, serfdom is when you are dependent on a beneficent government to protect you from the malevolent world in exchange for some of your stuff. No stuff, go to prison. I used to think I bought a home with a mortgage. Then I found out I lease it from the Township. The mortgage payments are incidental.

        Advice to overworked maltreated Amazon employees. After an indeterminate period of employment, if you aren’t promoted into better pay, get a different job with more opportunities.

        May sound harsh, but life is.

  8. timbers
    Dec 23, 2019 at 12:46 am

    I’ve experienced unusually bad delivery service form Amazon this year, in contrast generally from prior years.

    My deliveries form Amazon UK – where England recently privatized it’s once public postal service – have declined dramatically in quality.

    My deliveries from Amazon Germany where the postal service has remained unchanged (I think it is public or union which in Germany is practically the same as public but don’t worry that’s being worked on to crappify and privatize, too) have remained their usual excellent service.

    A few weeks ago a delivery from UK Amazon was clearly lost but Amazon tracking would only say they were WORKING ON IT.

    When I contacted Amazon, the AI bot gave completely useless rote respones. So next time, I kept typing PERSON until I was connected to a person. From the person, I received helpful responses.

    And yesterday, I received a delivery from UK and the box was partially crushed and water damaged. The contents itself was minimally damaged I choose not to take any action.

    And yes, when you get delivery on Sunday’s (today even) from white vans with New Jersey plates in Massachusetts, you’re not in UPS/USPS/Fed-Ex/Royal Mail of England anymore, Dorothy.

    The Amazon delivery guys are often handsome dark skinned immigrant looking types. Being a gay male of northern European extraction, I can’t complain about that.

    • Dec 23, 2019 at 1:57 am

      Forget it. I hear these gig works make SOOOOOO much money. Out of any 99 percenter’s league.

  9. David Hall
    Dec 23, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Blue Amazon vans everywhere.

    I saw something in the news about porch pirates intercepting packages. One lady reported 20 packages missing. They moved from shoplifting to porches.

    Pants online for less than half the price of the same pair of pants in a store. My size in stock online.

    Ordered a part online for $2.00 with free shipping from a competitor of Amazon. It ships from China. May take 3 – 8 weeks for delivery.

    • Deanna Johnston Clark
      Dec 23, 2019 at 6:17 am

      I ordered jeans from Wrangler, the very site. They shipped and disappeared off the radar. Now I’m waiting for the $43 to come home. This is happening a lot, and not just Amazon.
      This and the Chinese knock offs with no refund will cool some of the passion for online shopping.

      • Deanna Johnston Clark
        Dec 23, 2019 at 6:19 am

        Most returned clothes are thrown away and go to landfills. The companies are too cheap to have them reshelved. What a system…this world is insane.

        • Unamused
          Dec 23, 2019 at 7:55 am

          …this world is insane.

          It makes perfect sense to those who are profiting from the insanity. That’s not you.

        • Petunia
          Dec 23, 2019 at 10:54 am

          Amazon sells returned items in bulk to resellers. Resellers buy pallets based on categories and price. For example they can buy a pallet of toiletries, or clothing, or electronics. Most of the resellers sell the stuff on ebay.

        • panatomic
          Dec 24, 2019 at 3:58 am

          actually, the returns are sold by the pallet. there is a cottage industry of people reselling the stuff as used on ebay. there are toms of youtube videos about this process.

  10. Bill from Australia
    Dec 23, 2019 at 4:52 am

    I want to be a financial serf where do I sign up ? ( sar). I wish WOLF all the best in the Christmas season and I am looking forward to 2020 its going to be a BLAST.

  11. Iamafan
    Dec 23, 2019 at 6:05 am

    If it keeps on going, JB might be labelled uncle china, and might be radioactive. Let’s see where the limits are.

  12. historicus
    Dec 23, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Amazon plays an old game.
    Make your supplier dependent on you. The supplier builds factories to meet a demand from one entity. The supplier hires, borrows, builds.
    He is now owned by the company that he seeks to supply.

    • roddy6667
      Dec 23, 2019 at 6:59 am

      Walmart did that 20 years ago. It only works for a while.

      • Unamused
        Dec 23, 2019 at 8:10 am

        It only works for a while.

        Short-term profitability is all that matters.

        How easily people are weaseled into screwing themselves. Or coerced by having no choice but to put on the chains or starve.

  13. Rowen
    Dec 23, 2019 at 6:14 am

    End stage capitalism is a hell of a drug.

    • KFritz
      Dec 23, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Brilliantly concise! Happy Holidays!

  14. Wolfbay
    Dec 23, 2019 at 6:22 am

    What happened to antitrust enforcement? I assume it was a bipartisan effort to please the big corporations so the money keeps flowing to the politicians. Both parties are despicable but the hypocrisy of the Democrats is breathtaking.

    • Unamused
      Dec 23, 2019 at 8:22 am

      Both parties are in a contest to see who do the best job of selling out the country to corporatists. Guess which one is winning? Guess who’s losing?

      Once you start electing crooks, you’ve given permission to all the other crooks to run for office until they outnumber the sincere politicians who get systematically smeared and you end up with a Senate protecting a crime lord.

      Pass the popcorn.

      • kleen
        Dec 23, 2019 at 10:18 am

        They are the Uniparty. Dems and GOP both answer to the CoC, (Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue.)

        Let’s face it, they do a good job a fooling the sheep into believing we have a 2 party system and we “choose” our elected officials. LOL, yeah, some people really believe that and it amazes me.

      • Lisa_Hooker
        Dec 24, 2019 at 11:51 am

        And a House that repeatedly abuses parliamentary procedures beyond the pale.

        I’m going with nacho party mix. It will be entertaining. It will not end well for any of us. So sad.

    • Kent
      Dec 23, 2019 at 9:00 am

      “the hypocrisy of the Democrats is breathtaking.”

      The very purpose of the Clinton presidency was to turn the Democratic Party away from the traditional interests of middle class America in favor of the shareholding class. Today, the only presidential contender who isn’t 100% in that fold is Sanders. Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden are quite open in their enthrallment to Wall Street.

      The Democrats have exchanged what appears to be concern for the middle class to wedge issues over LGBTQ+ and immigration. The Republicans completely replaced any concern for the middle class after the Nixon presidency, replacing that with its own wedge issue: abortion.

      So which is more important to you? Stopping abortion or promoting SSM? That’s all you really get to vote on. Everything else is off the table.

      • Petunia
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:15 pm

        I’m still sorry I didn’t vote for Perot.

        • Lisa_Hooker
          Dec 24, 2019 at 11:53 am

          I voted for Perot. It’s been all downhill since.

  15. Iamafan
    Dec 23, 2019 at 6:46 am

    I bought a steam cleaner for the car from Amazon. Sure enough the one from China had 4_5 stars and appeared to be a recommended buy. So I did, and the next day it was in my doorsteps. The crap exploded steam the first time I tried it. Good thing I was far enough so it didn’t hurt me. Back it went. In my opinion, Amazon is promoting junk and dangerous products. Shameful. I am shying away from unknown brands now. I guess I can afford a little safety.

    • Zantetsu
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:19 am

      We get it Iamafan. You don’t have to post the same “Amazon sells cheap Chinese crap” comment 300 times.

  16. freewary
    Dec 23, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Anyone doing any kind of business with Amazon, including AWS is very foolish. Look up recent news what Amazon has done to Fedex and Cisco.

    However, Amazon’s attitude of “Anything you can do we can do better, no matter what business it is” will ultimately be their downfall. Show me any business in history that has successfully maintained 100% horizontal and vertical integration indefinitely?

    • Lisa_Hooker
      Dec 24, 2019 at 11:56 am

      See the government of the United States. They appear a quite profitable business, especially if you include printing money.

  17. R2D2
    Dec 23, 2019 at 7:11 am

    I just got a £7 product, the size of a fist, delivered, for free, by Amazon UK Prime Student (£3 a month), to my frontdoor, in under 18 hours. As Amazon and their delivery partners get slicker and faster, they should be able to bring it down to 2-6 hours in a few years. Amazon is doing a great job for customers.

  18. james wordsworth
    Dec 23, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Amazon wins because it cheats.
    Uber wins because it cheats
    Facebook wins because it cheats
    Airbnb wins because it cheats.

    These companies take ALL of the revenue, but cheat to avoid paying the true cost of their goods/services. No wonder they thrive and grow,

    But one example … returns to amazon often get sent to landfills. We pay they profit. Another … a billion trees are needed for amazon packaging each year. We pay (climate change/deforestation), they profit.

    Of course consumers love them – who doesn’t love getting something for less than cost. That’s the whole model – cheat cheat cheat.

    • Keepcalmeverythingisfine
      Dec 23, 2019 at 8:16 am

      That’s called “externalizing your true costs” and it is taught in the best business schools.

      I recently met a young guy that worked in the Amazon warehouse in Thornton CO. Four days per week at 10-12 hours per day. $20 per hour. Employee tenure is measured in weeks and months. If you make it 30 days you are usually promoted to manager.

    • Unamused
      Dec 23, 2019 at 9:30 am

      That’s the whole model – cheat cheat cheat.

      It is an unfortunate fact of human social dynamics that those who cheat have a greater chance of succeeding than those who don’t, given the right conditions. Cheaters cultivate those conditions. The trick is to avoid letting them have those conditions, because if you fail, you’re doomed. This is the present situation. Many years of sophisticated analysis predicted its ascendancy but have not revealed any means of reversing it.

      Among other academic achievements, I also happen to hold an advanced degree in business from a prestigious institution. I learned many things. Accounting is a contest between cheaters and auditors, not all of them cheaters themselves. Also that ‘business ethics’, when it is not rejected out of hand, has largely become a pretense engineered to sucker rubes – investors, customers, employees, and regulators alike.

      I have also been a manager and an entrepreneur. Brilliant? I was incandescent. Now I do a truly comfortable penance in a different system where there are no lies, no back-stabbing, no poverty, no unemployment, no welfare, no bankruptcy, no pollution, no rending of garments or gnashing of teeth, no children in cages, and no massacres for other people’s oil. I could not save the world, but I could save a few, in a quiet corner of the planet where we can stay out of the way of history. For a little while.

      • Saltcreep
        Dec 24, 2019 at 11:24 am

        It’s somewhat harsh generalisation, I would say. The most serious corruption and graft tends mostly to gravitate towards the top and concentrate in large societies until it becomes overconcentrated and a revolution or something occurs to shake things up so that the process of concentration can start again.

        On a smaller scale things are more transparent, and my impression is that dishonesty is much harder to hide, and people will quickly catch on, so it won’t serve you well in the longer run. I have a little company, and in the bigger picture, as I see it, I’m really not worth much more than my word. Others can replace us and do what we do, but if a customer trusts us then we’re not so easy to ditch, so it’s potentially suicidal for us to endanger that trust. I was also brought up in a way that makes my guts contort inside me and my skin go all red and trembly outside if I try to tell bald faced lies…

  19. Iamafan
    Dec 23, 2019 at 7:59 am

    I can see a new sign or poster in people’s premises. Amazon delivery keep out. No trespassing. I don’t want any gig person near me or my family. Keep out. Allowing gig theft is going to be a big problem. Good luck from someone who knows this business. The last mile is mostly about people, hopefully good ones.

    • Nicko2
      Dec 23, 2019 at 8:11 am

      They’re already rolling out drone delivery, humans are the weakest link. You will be assimilated.

      • buda atum
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:18 pm

        And resistance is futile!

  20. tom
    Dec 23, 2019 at 8:01 am

    I live rural. No problem finding small business to buy from.
    A lot of amish nearby as well. They don’t do well on phones. and their delivery service is a little slow. I think they take returns.

    If your concerned, just do your best to spend your $$$ elsewhere.
    I hear Wolf has mugs for sale.

    Merry xmas folks.

  21. Iamafan
    Dec 23, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Btw, in case you haven’t noticed, most USPS mail people have been issued electronic trackers already. This takes metrics of movements and stop data. Big brother.

    Amazon’s delivery service actually announces how far or how many stops they are from your house, then takes a pic of the package where they left it in your porch if you aren’t there. If you have a ring doorbell or an Amazon doorlock, things can get creepier. If you live in a high-rise or what’s called a vertical route, you are excempted from this agony since you most probably have to get your stuff from a common mail room. You just might have to get your packages stolen by common thieves. My son who lives in Brooklyn has to have expensive items delivered to my house in Connecticut because of theft.

    • Nicko2
      Dec 23, 2019 at 8:23 am

      Benefits of living in a building with a doorman.

    • Petunia
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Amazon has a package delivery system for complexes called an Amazon Hub. It is an electronic mailbox system for packages. This system is used by the post office in China to deliver packages. They text you the location, box number and a key code to open the box.

      I wish the USPS would do it here too. Our system has package boxes but they leave you the wrong key or the boxes are broken.

    • Zantetsu
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:25 am

      Meanwhile, I live in an apartment complex in Sunnyvale. All of the apartments are open to the outdoors, there are no indoor hallways. I see Amazon deliveries sitting outside of people’s doors constantly, every single day. You often have to step around them. If they were getting stolen with any regularity, I am sure they would stop delivering them that way.

      I used to live in NYC too. Never again.

      • David G LA
        Dec 24, 2019 at 10:27 am

        And a pile of packages in front of a door is a flashing neon sign: “I am on vacation, no one is home.”

  22. Dec 23, 2019 at 8:51 am

    I’m in the process of evicting a meth-head who
    steals packages and trades them for drugs/sex;
    it takes months because the city doesn’t want
    another homeless jerk on the street.

    In New York, where jail costs 1’000$/day/person,
    professional scofflaws operate with impunity.

    The city doesn’t want to pay for it,
    they don’t want to house/manage “undesirables”;
    so random citizens, like me, pay the price.

    I leave instructions with Amazon and
    with the delivery service:
    “back door only, call 206-555-1234”.

    But they ignore my requests
    because they’re in a hurry.

    • Petunia
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Info every self respecting New Yorker knows:

      If you know your tenant is a junkie tell the cops, he is bound to always have drugs on him. The cops save this info for when they need to earn some overtime, which is almost always. You’re welcome.

      • Greg Hamilton
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:45 pm

        I am learning a lot from Petunia lately. First which co-op buildings to avoid, because as Groucho Marx said, “I would refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” And now how to get rid of my junkie tenants.
        And I thought Wolfstreet was primarily a financial blog.

        • Petunia
          Dec 23, 2019 at 1:33 pm

          What’s not financial about my comment? It contains info on how to keep making money on real estate, how to improve the wages of law enforcement workers, all while lowering the crime rates.

    • Unamused
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:13 am

      I’m in the process of evicting a meth-head

      In a humane system he would be removed for treatment, or his condition would have been prevented altogether. But you do not have a humane system. It’s easier, although more expensive, to dump such on the street and hope they don’t return.

      The city doesn’t want to pay for it

      Right. The government should pay for it, so taxpayers don’t have to.

      In New York, where jail costs 1’000$/day/person,
      professional scofflaws operate with impunity.

      Many people on Wall St. could easily afford it if the laws were enforced.

      • Zantetsu
        Dec 23, 2019 at 11:27 am

        “The government should pay for it, so taxpayers don’t have to.”

        Did you actually write that with a straight face?

        • Unamused
          Dec 23, 2019 at 12:24 pm

          You missed the sarcasm. Like our Mr. Relf, more than a few people who should know better have actually said things like this, none of them on the left. There are many examples of similar contradictions, like the protesters who demand ‘the government’ not steal from Medicare to pay for socialised medicine. One has to take these things with a certain equanimity because such people cannot easily be deprogrammed.

        • Dec 23, 2019 at 1:14 pm

          “The government should pay for it, so taxpayers don’t have to.”

          I thought it was the funniest line I read all day, in the sense of “no one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

      • Tom
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:41 pm

        I showed the Mrs Jeff’s post and your reply.

        I know her answer :-), but why the assumption the poor addict was a
        He??

        • Willy Winky
          Dec 23, 2019 at 8:59 pm

          > Unamused – or Greta and the environmentalists who buy the latest phones, computers, clothes, shoes, get dropped off at school in an SUV etc etc etc etc etc x 1,000,000,000,000…

          Who DEMAND that the governments DO SOMETHING and ask HOW DARE anyone not take cold showers.

          Welcome to 2020!!! The train is picking up steam as it rounds the bend.

    • Zantetsu
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:31 am

      How many tenants do you have? Is this a common problem?

      This is an area of personal responsibility. You need to vet your tenants before accepting them. You will not always get this right, but on balance the few bad apples should be outweighed by the vast majority of good tenants. Nobody can remove all costs of doing business.

      Unamused wants the government to step in and somehow soften the blow for landlords who accept bad tenants. That would remove all incentive for landlords to vet them. And it would remove some of the pressure on people to clean up their act and pay their rent and act responsibly.

      It is the worst kind of government interference. Unless you can’t make any money because all of your tenants are bad (I highly doubt this is the case), the few bad ones are just one of the costs of your business.

      • Unamused
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:26 pm

        Unamused wants the government to step in and somehow soften the blow for landlords who accept bad tenants.

        You don’t speak for me, Sir, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t twist my utterances to fit your toxic ideology.

        • Zantetsu
          Dec 23, 2019 at 2:05 pm

          Well when you use nonobvious sarcasm that’s what happens. Learn to be clearer in your comments.

        • Willy Winky
          Dec 23, 2019 at 9:00 pm

          Zentsu – the sarcasm was rather obvious (and amusing) to me.

        • Dec 23, 2019 at 10:29 pm

          Mr. “Unamused” replied ( to Zantetsu ):
          > I’d appreciate it if you didn’t twist my
          > utterances to fit your toxic ideology.

          Zantetsu’s strawmen aren’t nearly as putrid
          as yours, Mr. “Unamused”.

          Wolf Richter is enjoying them too, I see,
          laughing along with you, as you
          intentionally mis-interpret me.

          The city either can’t or won’t properly police.

          I eagerly await your next strawman construction;
          I’m sure you’ll use the finest grade of excrement,
          bringing a smile to Wolf’s face.

          Seattle does everything in his power to ensure that
          the burden of establishing housing for “undesirables”
          falls on landlords/tenants, not the city; then it does
          everything in his power to prevent their eviction.

          Screeners aren’t allowed to know
          the criminal history of potential tenants.

          One’s selection process must be precise, not fuzzy,
          and it must be fixed in writing;
          one must not deviate from it.

          If you allow-in people with bad credit,
          all hell can break loose — and can
          take several months to get rid of them.

          And that is precisely the market that needs
          the most attention, if you could drag your
          eyes away from Trump’s wallet for a second.

        • Dec 24, 2019 at 12:44 am

          Jeff Relf,

          Look, time for everyone to cool off. The verbally funny part that was misread by some as serious was Unamused’s line: “The government should pay for it, so taxpayers don’t have to.” That IS a funny line, when you think about it.

          YOUR situation is NOT funny, and no one said it was, and no one was laughing about it. You tried to describe a very complex issue in a few words, and some people cherry-picked segments of it, and the thread got away. I understand your problems as landlord, I understand that some rules that are designed to protect tenants make it very tough being a landlord in some cities. And this is what you’re now describing in greater detail. Being a landlord is not an easy job.

    • California Bob
      Dec 24, 2019 at 12:56 am

      A few months ago, the local PD asked if they could use our residence in Modesto for a sting operation. They left an expensive-looking package with designer labeling on our porch for a couple days (presumably there was a pretty bored undercover cop sitting in his car nearby). No one took it.

      There’s something to be said for living in the boondocks.

  23. breamrod
    Dec 23, 2019 at 9:08 am

    anyone working for amazon is playing with a rattlesnake. A bald headed one!

  24. Scott
    Dec 23, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Wow, just reading all of the very negative comments about Amazon here makes me doubt what country you are living in. You are all attacking Amazon like it is the Terminator and it going to kill us all.

    Amazon created an awesome service that never existed before. It has empowered millions and hired hundreds of thousands. Yet, you bash them because they are successful, just like you did with Walmart, Apple and Microsoft. Without great minds and businesses, the USA would just be another country instead of the most successful economic machine ever.

    • Keepcalmeverythingisfine
      Dec 23, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Without “innovation” the US would be just another country. Monopolistic behavior is the rough edge of capitalism that we try to smooth off so people don’t get hurt. One may also say that taking care of the planet has become another rough edge of capitalism that we try to smooth off.

    • daniel weise
      Dec 23, 2019 at 10:04 am

      I would agree with you except the way amazon operates is anything but healthy capitalism or competition. the game is to put your competitors out of business by offering artificially low prices all financed by investors. once all competition is eliminated prices will be raised. the thousands of cab drivers put out of work by Uber probably would not share your enthusiasm.

    • Unamused
      Dec 23, 2019 at 10:06 am

      You are all attacking Amazon like it is the Terminator and it going to kill us all.

      First they have to take out their competitors so you have no alternative. You don’t become disposable until you run out of credit.

      Drone delivery of ordnance: still free. But that’s a different department.

  25. Dec 23, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Why doesn’t Amazon merge with Lyft/Uber? Cargo is cargo. These guys aren’t any more dominant that Sears was a century ago. My friend lives in a house which came from the Sears catalog, almost 100yrs ago. The delivery system was built on a government bureaucracy or they might still be in business. They did understand their customers, and I am not sure Amazon is a viable retailer in that respect.

  26. Kleen
    Dec 23, 2019 at 10:57 am

    “The most powerful U.S. business lobby: Chamber of Commerce.

    Tom Donohue gives hundreds of millions to Mitch McConnell and the crony UniParty capitalist ilk that infect Washington DC. Donohue owns the vast majority of U.S. politicians. This battle is the epicenter of lobbying usurpation, and how multinational corporations own U.S. politicians.

    The U.S. CoC is the largest DC lobbying group for multinational corporations and multinational financial interests.

    The CoC is at the very epicenter of the financial constructs that support the Washington DC UniParty.

    In the Western World, separate from communist control perspectives (ie. China), “Global markets” are a modern myth; nothing more than a talking point meant to keep people satiated with sound bites they might find familiar. However, global markets have been destroyed over the past three decades by multinational corporations who control the products formerly contained within free and fair markets.

    The same is true for “Commodities Markets”. The multinational trade and economic system, run by corporations and multinational banks, now controls the product outputs of independent nations. The free market economic system has been usurped by entities who create what is best described as ‘controlled markets’.

    Understanding how trillions of trade dollars influence geopolitical policy we begin to understand the three-decade global financial construct they seek to protect.

    That is, global financial exploitation of national markets. FOUR BASIC ELEMENTS:

    ♦Multinational corporations purchase controlling interests in various national outputs and industries of developed industrial western nations.

    ♦The Multinational Corporations making the purchases are underwritten by massive global financial institutions, multinational banks.

    ♦The Multinational Banks and the Multinational Corporations then utilize lobbying interests to manipulate the internal political policy of the targeted nation state(s).

    ♦With control over the targeted national industry or interest, the multinationals then leverage export of the national asset (exfiltration) through trade agreements structured to the benefit of lesser developed nation states – where they have previously established a proactive financial footprint.

    For three decades economic “globalism” has advanced, quickly. Everyone accepts this statement, yet few actually stop to ask who and what are behind this – and why?

    Influential people with vested financial interests in the process have sold a narrative that global manufacturing, global sourcing, and global production was the inherent way of the future. The same voices claimed the American economy was consigned to become a “service-driven economy.”

    What was always missed in these discussions is that advocates selling this global-economy message have a vested financial and ideological interest in convincing the information consumer it is all just a natural outcome of economic progress.

    It’s not.

    It’s not natural at all. It is a process that is entirely controlled, promoted and utilized by large conglomerates and massive financial corporations.”

    The above is part of an article from Sundance.

    • backwardsevolution
      Dec 23, 2019 at 11:48 am

      Kleen – excellent post. Kleen, do you have a link to that Sundance article (if Wolf would allow it), or could you provide the article’s title name so I can find it? I’d like to read it because I’ve believed for a long time that this is exactly what’s going on.

      The reason I say this is because, while helping my child with a homework assignment (what happened in Japan during the Great Depression), I came across a little sentence in either the school textbook or an online article that mentioned U.S. corporations going into Japan during the Great Depression and buying up or becoming a major stakeholder in the largest Japanese companies. I can’t remember the companies’ names, but they were names I readily recognized. I thought to myself, with the split second I had to think about it (kids!), that that was very interesting; I’d never heard that before. I thought: no wonder Japan became such a powerhouse; it was aided and abetted by U.S. corporate money who had a very real stake in making sure Japan was successful.

      Same thing is happening in China. I think this is what’s going on now with the trade wars with China. The U.S. went to China decades ago, courted them, dangled riches in front of the Chinese elite, and they played ball. The U.S. right now is making sure that China realizes that it was they who built them up, provided all of the technology, the know-how, and they are reminding China that: “We made you, and we can break you. China is our new playground and we will control it – our banks, our corporations.”

      That is what my gut is telling me. The rest of Asia too. South America is easily controlled with U.S. coups. One great big global party, with the U.S. multinationals and banks directing the fun.

      What do you think? Where am I going wrong?

      • tom
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:07 pm

        Only a handful of sites I visit. Wolf & The Treehouse are 2 of them.

        Great articles by Wolf & Sundance. Wade into the comment sections
        if you dare. As a small business owner trying to make sense of todays economy they are both great reads.

        Sundance can be found @ theconservativetreehouse.com

        • backwardsevolution
          Dec 23, 2019 at 12:18 pm

          Tom – thank you very much. I’ll have a look.

      • lisa
        Dec 23, 2019 at 12:38 pm

        China owns their own multi-conglomerates. The US players don’t like it. Right now, there is merging between the Saudi’s, Russia and China that will imbalance the US and EU players. China plays by its own rules, and are smarter than all of the rest, except maybe the Japanese. Because Mecca is in territory controlled by Saudi family, and they have control over 2-Trillion in global wealth, and the largest mass population globally that responds to their propaganda, the financial maneuvering by the US is losing ground. The Mid East, Russian and Chinese trade agreements, and financial changes in process right now can undermine the US and EU players. Population destabilization that is occurring in EU, SA, India, and HK. So how does all of that affect Amazon? Between their money system and on-the-street delivery systems- Amazon will be the first canary to tweet the last minute warnings to all those multi-nationals that lost market share and didn’t pay attention.
        The top players, the Multi-Nationals, Saudis, etc. don’t give a flip what happens on the streets anywhere. They are protected by their own contracted security forces, and well-gated communities globally. They don’t even encounter any of the conflict, in fact, they are supporting it, as they then accumulate their wealth in continuous vertical streams. It just depends how long those verticals are not affected by all the negatives of the horizontals. If the basics for maintaining condition of drinking water globally continues to be ignored, yeah, they will get affected eventually. In the US, the disregard by all of Congress to establish safe drinking water, and it is totally ungodly, what Congress is doing right now in December of 2019 about drinking water for the entire nation,will allow “water” to become the pricey commodity, to cause the priciest tax, or right-to-access rather than land rights, or financial media stability of any kind, or Amazon beating out all the multi-nationals!
        Funny, how I filtered all of this topic down to water, believe it or not! Yeah, water- nobody can do without it after how many days? We take it for granted, without a care in the iota, as we focus on one great big global party, with the US multinationals and banks directing the fun.
        Right now there is critical legislation floating around the desks in Congress, that no one is considering at any where the level that everyone needs to be considering. Once certain contaminants are in water supplies across the US, none of the discussions about Amazon will matter.
        Yeah, that’s what I think. And, I just focused on where all of us are going wrong.

        • backwardsevolution
          Dec 23, 2019 at 1:51 pm

          Lisa – “China owns its own multi-conglomerates.” Maybe, maybe not.

          I just think that if China is able to succeed, it won’t be because the U.S. loses. It will be because the U.S. “let them”.

          China would still be back in the Stone Age if not for the U.S. multinationals and banks, U.S. technology/science/engineering. Had they attempted to get up to speed with the world on “their own”, it would have taken them a hundred years.

          Before you even think you are going to go up against the U.S. and become a world player, you are quickly brought back down to size. China is being told right now: we will allow you to return to growth, but ON OUR TERMS.

          If China and the rest of Asia are successful, it will be because the U.S. allowed it AND the Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese played nice.

          That’s the way I see it. The psychopaths have a firm control on the world. We are fast becoming one big global corporation.

          Oh, they hide it well by saying things like, “Look at China grow,” but behind the scenes it is well controlled by the western elites.

          My two cents. Merry Christmas to you.

        • RagnarD
          Dec 27, 2019 at 9:06 pm

          lisa/backwards
          I agree with both of you.

          Water is ultimately THE issue for a many countries that are water and energy deficient. Be deficient in both and population beneficent, and u might b f*&ked. And that chaos will no doubt off load into neighbor X Y and Z. South Africa, according to some (but none in the MSM of course) is at the top of the list. Think: large population growth brought about by Afrikaner tech / wealth >> large tech / production loss brought about by ongoing Afrikaner “removal”.

          China? Clearly they have ridden the greased skids of both their own technical / industrial / self suppressed IQ potential, while at the same time riding the quicksilver of the USA’s post 1971 gold standard spending spree.

          Now imagine building your future based on the continuation of both of these events, while at the same time having put in place an uber Orwellian police surveillance complex to insure that no one has an unapproved thought for the next forever.
          Rush to the exits?

      • kleen
        Dec 23, 2019 at 2:17 pm

        The title of the article :
        U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue Rages: President Trump is Existential Threat to NAFTA…
        Posted on October 10, 2017 by sundance

        It’s an older one, but on that website, the conservative treehouse, you can type on the search box TOM DONOHUE or Chamber of Commerce and it will bring up many other articles about the dirty schemes in DC.

        I would also recommend his articles about China (trade war)

        Both parties! Democrats and Republicans. It’s a Uniparty issue.

        • backwardsevolution
          Dec 23, 2019 at 6:45 pm

          Kleen – thank you for getting back to me. I’ll be sure to check out Tom Donohue and the Chamber of Commerce articles.

          “It’s a Uniparty issue.” It certainly is. President Trump not only has Democrats fighting against him, but also the Republicans from his own party. Quite amazing.

          I believe the first time I heard someone speaking about the Chamber of Commerce was an interview that Chris Hedges did with Ralph Nader. Nader, I believe, mentioned Justice Powell (appointed to the Supreme Court by Nixon) as being instrumental in urging the Chamber of Commerce to start lobbying hard in Washington and to develop think tanks. Nader said after the famous Powell Memorandum to the Chamber, things began changing. Beginning of neoliberalism.

          Merry Christmas to you, Kleen.

    • lisa
      Dec 23, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      Great article….

      • lisa
        Dec 23, 2019 at 2:34 pm

        Backwards evolution- you are absolutely right on. – and happpy new year! That Sundance synopsis is super duper too!

    • kleen
      Dec 23, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue Rages: President Trump is Existential Threat to NAFTA…
      Posted on October 10, 2017 by sundance

  27. wkevinw
    Dec 23, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Of course the “entrepreneur” ( an often misused term) is at the mercy of Amazon.

    Diversification is a business concept that is basically universal. Some items where a business needs diversification:
    – suppliers -customers -employees (skill diversification at least).

    Doing these “entrepreneur” services for Amazon doesn’t afford any diversification from what I see.

    There’s really nothing new here except Amazon’s ability to keep doing these things (at a loss) for as long as they have.

  28. Seneca's cliff
    Dec 23, 2019 at 11:43 am

    The problem is that plethora of “last mile” delivery services including Amazons Gig workers in rusty vans is not more efficient in terms of logistics, energy or labor. Even the most math challenged person can figure out the the most efficient system would be a single entity in a given area that can gather up all the deliveries to a single zone and deliver them at one time. Having deliveries by 6 or 8 different services at different times of day is doomed to fail at some point.

  29. Andy Fanter
    Dec 23, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Amazon will likely lose a little of their 40+% market share in internet retail. I think their next move is buying FEDEX. Yes, they have their own delivery, but I think excluding Fedex from deliveries is a similar play Schwab made in going to free trades and buying the weaker TD Ameritrade.

  30. RD Blakeslee
    Dec 23, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Re the small “independent” small businesses Amazon is setting up:
    “… their only supplier is Amazon.”

    Apropos of the complexity of our huge economy and how life is changing: The man who used to artificially inseminate some of my cows before the cow-calf business transitioned to mostly pastured steers in Monroe County WV now uses his pickup truck to deliver packages to our house from both FedEx and UPS!

  31. James R Chaillet, Jr. , MD
    Dec 23, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Great reports. I’d like to hear or read what your thoughts are on Amazon’s endgame. I don’t believe it stops with driving FedEx and UPS out of business.
    Also, interesting to read comments about how great Amazon has been for consumers. Some people think a monopoly is good. What happens when Amazon becomes the only retail outlet in town. You don’t think it won’t squeeze the consumer like it does its gig workers?

    • Petunia
      Dec 23, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      I heard some comedian joke — when Amazon starts using AI, they will send you stuff you didn’t know yet you were going to buy.

      • Iamafan
        Dec 23, 2019 at 5:36 pm

        Ronnie Chieng on Netflix is awesome.

    • wkevinw
      Dec 23, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      US anti-trust laws are very narrow. Basically a customer has to be harmed or reasonably expected to be (it’s not just that there is only one supplier). Amazon has been able to argue low cost, etc. The counter factual can’t be proven in court. One smart strategy is to buy up competitors. Then the counter factual continues not to exist: a competitor can’t join the market and do something cheaper or better.

      This is a flaw ( in the “legal theory”).

      New technologies are incompatible with these laws, and have been for >100 years in my view.

  32. unit472
    Dec 23, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Great report Wolf. Thing is this same situation played out in the late 19th century. Then it was the railroads and Standard Oil who exploited monopoly power. Cornelius Vanderbilt controlled rail access into New York City. You had to pay him to ship anything in or out . Did very well for himself and became America’s richest man until Rockefeller built Standard Oil, a vertically integrated oil monopoly that controlled the production, refining and distribution of petroleum products.

    People got fed up with a handful of tycoons controlling the US economy and those monopolies got broken up in the early 20th century. Time to do it again?

  33. Kasadour
    Dec 23, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    . . . special deals on fuel. . .

    Currently, big oil companies (Shell, Chevron, BP and ExxM etc ) are taking huge write-downs on terrible economic data. This will translate to lower gasoline prices, but it won’t last. Many if not all of these major oil companies made really bad bets on US shale assets leading to billions and billions of losses. US oil production is a guaranteed money loss and is all but busted at this point. It won’t be long until oil shoots back up to levels that will crush any positive economic activity. Amazon better enjoy it while it (low-ish oil/gas price) lasts.

    Mr.Richter: You sound great. get well soon.

    Ps- I put my comment in the wrong spot. Having some difficulty writing comments cause the site keeps reloading before I’m finished causing me to lose it and I don’t know where I am I in the continuity of the thread.

  34. Dec 23, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    AMZN has been consolidating in a tight channel since mid July, after a long uptrend.
    There is a good chance that it’ll break higher … you have a bit of political risk as some of the candidates are targeting Amazon as an example of a Monopoly, but I’m tempted to bet long on this one with a tight stop, say at 1740 or so.
    Currently I have no position, but I expect they’ll have a solid Christmas season.

  35. Mars
    Dec 24, 2019 at 12:44 am

    Don’t forget Amazon invested 700 million in EV startup Rivian for development of 100,000 delivery vans.

    Maybe they will leave them loaded at high traffic corners and you can use an app to hire on and be a delivery gig driver for a couple of hours ;)

  36. Dec 24, 2019 at 1:29 am

    Stellar report. That they’re dominating an industry this much, this fast is incredible, but it’s the sheer number of different industries they’re disrupting that really blows my mind.

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