How Amazon Gains Control & Domination

Amazon takes over the last mile and everything else.

By Wolf Richter. This is the transcript from my podcast last Sunday, THE WOLF STREET REPORT:

Amazon just gave us an update on how rapidly its own delivery system is replacing UPS, the US Postal Service, FedEx, and other carriers in delivering packages from an Amazon fulfillment center to the door of Amazon’s customer.

The numbers show how big this system is already after practically no time of starting it up, how big the package volume is already, and how many drivers are already working in this system.

This has huge consequences for the US logistics business, the companies that slug it out in it, such as UPS and FedEx, and that keep raising their published rates despite the dynamics of the market, which is facing Amazon’s creation, the mushrooming companies that Amazon is building up to get around the established carriers. Its purpose is twofold:

  • One, bring down delivery costs.
  • And two, gain control.

Delivery costs have always been a primary issue in ecommerce. And gaining control became a primary issue for Amazon in the 2013 holiday season. The flood of Amazon orders was such that it overwhelmed UPS and FedEx, and packages were delivered after Christmas, which created a huge debacle for Amazon.

So, to gain control and bring down costs, it has to become the number 1 gorilla in the logistics business and surround itself by thousands of small logistics companies that it totally controls and that are eating the lunch of today’s giants, UPS and FedEx. And that’s what’s happening at an astounding speed.

Amazon didn’t invent ecommerce. But from day one, it has been pushing the envelope in every direction to make itself the dominant player in just about all related fields, some high-tech, some low-tech, from cloud computing to delivery, to bring down costs and gain control.

To do this, Amazon is helping create thousands of smaller companies. It’s enticing potential entrepreneurs with attractive entry deals. These companies have non-unionized drivers, and they have no fancy corporate headquarters and overhead, and they can operate for less, especially if they can use Amazon’s purchasing power for vehicles and insurance, which Amazon has set up for them to do.

The first time I noticed it enough to where I chatted up a delivery driver was in early 2017. Amazon packages used to be delivered to our building in San Francisco by the US Postal Service, by UPS, or by FedEx. But then I noticed that Amazon packages were being delivered by people in regular clothes. Some of them came in unmarked vehicles. Others were marked with Amazon logos.

One of them pulled up in a small white van with an Amazon logo. And he wore a vest with an Amazon logo. So, I asked him if he worked for Amazon. He said he worked for a delivery company with about 20 vans in Oakland that’s delivering for Amazon.

At the time, Amazon was setting up two programs in select cities, for which it was actively recruiting gig workers and “entrepreneurs.”

One program was “Amazon Flex”: Amazon billed it as a way to “make $18 to $25 per hour delivering packages with Amazon.” It was app-based and allowed gig workers to choose a block of time during a day in which to pick up and deliver packages. The pick-up location could be an Amazon facility or “a store or even a restaurant,” it said. Gig workers could use their car or bicycle or whatever. And they were contractors, paid by Amazon.

The other program was dubbed Amazon Delivery Providers. “Whether you have one van or a fleet, our volume and your business could be a great match,” Amazon said at the time.

They’d pick up at a local Amazon facility. They’d use Amazon’s routing technology. And off you go, making gobs of money, or so you hope, delivering packages for Amazon. The entrepreneurs, so the owners of these little delivery companies, contracted with Amazon, and received their revenues from Amazon. And they paid their own drivers – like the guy I’d chatted up.

All of them were doing the work that employees of the US Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS used to do.

A year later, in June 2018, Amazon announced a new program, now called, Delivery Service Partners. At the time, Amazon said that this program would help “entrepreneurs build their own companies delivering Amazon packages.”

“Amazon will take an active role in helping interested entrepreneurs start, set up, and manage their own delivery business,” it said in the announcement at the time.

“Successful owners can earn as much as $300,000 in annual profit operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles,” Amazon said.

“Individual owners can build their business knowing they will have delivery volume from Amazon, access to the company’s sophisticated delivery technology, hands-on training, and discounts on a suite of assets and services, including vehicle leases and comprehensive insurance,” Amazon said.

“Over time, Amazon will empower hundreds of new, small business owners to hire tens of thousands of delivery drivers across the US,” it said.

Start-up costs would be as low as $10,000, Amazon said, given all the support from Amazon – the training, the software technologies, the operational support, the special deals and leases on Amazon-branded customized vans, special deals on branded uniforms, special deals on fuel, comprehensive insurance coverage, etc.

The entrepreneurs would not have to do any marketing – Amazon would be their only customer, and Amazon would give them the volume of packages to support their business. So Amazon said, “individuals with little to no logistics experience have the opportunity to run their own delivery business.”

This has apparently taken off in a massive way. Amazon announced a few days ago that its dedicated last-mile delivery network is on track to deliver 3.5 billion customer packages globally this year. Up from zero a few years ago.

By comparison, UPS delivered 5.2 billion packages and documents globally last year. At the growth rate of Amazon’s delivery system, if will blow past UPS in a couple of years globally.

Amazon said that in the US, its delivery system already handles the largest share of its customers’ orders, ahead of the share of each, the US Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx.

It said it has 150 delivery stations across the United States that employ over 90,000 Amazon “logistics associates,” as it calls them. These are Amazon employees who make a wage of at least $15 an hour plus get some benefits, it said.

They get the packages ready to be picked up by the drivers of the small logistics companies that Amazon has helped set up – namely the Amazon Delivery Service Partners.

It now had over 800 of these Amazon Delivery Service Partners in the last-mile network, it said, and these companies were employing 75,000 drivers in the United States.

So, 75,000 drivers at 800 companies, means that the average delivery company now has 94 drivers. And these companies didn’t even exist a few years ago.

For these 800 companies and their 75,000 drivers that Amazon helped create, Amazon is everything: It controls the business volume, namely the packages to be delivered, and the revenues, via the rates it is paying. It provides special deals on leasing the delivery vans, getting insurance, and even on getting fuel. It provides the app-based technology to design the most efficient routes every day.

In a situation like this, as a delivery business, where you have one giant customer that helped create your business and that controls everything, including your revenues to the last penny, how you run your business, and what services you use, there is one thing to remember: Your business thrives or dies by the grace of Amazon.

And once Amazon has the system up and running to the full extent, the squeeze invariably begins. It will start in small items here and there, paying for services that used to be free, and the special deals will get less special, and the amount Amazon pays for deliveries will get squeezed – because now that it has control, Amazon will proceed with the goal: bringing down delivery costs of ecommerce. And the way to do this is by squeezing the delivery network.

The merchants that use Amazon’s platform and that have built thriving businesses relying on the platform, they’ve been finding out the same principle: the squeeze is on and it’s eating into their business and profits, and if they don’t like it, they have trouble moving on.

Giants like Nike, they can, and do, pull their merchandise off Amazon and use their own established websites and sales channels to continue, but mom-and-pop merchants, whose business has become dependent on the Amazon platform, they’re sitting ducks, waiting to be squeezed. This is now playing out in full force.

For the little delivery companies, this is still in the future – the recognition that at Amazon it’s all about gaining control and cutting the costs of ecommerce.

Without Amazon, ecommerce would still be in the stone age of ecommerce. Amazon has been pushing the envelope in every direction from day one. It has upended brick-and-mortar retail. It has upended cloud computing that ecommerce is based on. It is muscling in on online advertising. It is leading in placing its spy-devices into homes, such as its Alexa smart speaker. It is now upending the established logistics system.

None of this happened overnight. Each took many years to reach critical mass. But Amazon’s last-mile delivery system has reached critical mass in just three or four years and appears to be progressing faster than any of its other initiatives. And it’s a logical expansion of Amazon’s drive to cut costs and gain control.

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  123 comments for “How Amazon Gains Control & Domination

  1. 2banana says:

    So, in essence, these “partners” take all the risk, all the liabilities, all the taxes, all workers comp, must abide by all the Amazon rules/regulations and can be tossed in the trash at a moments notice.

    “The entrepreneurs would not have to do any marketing – Amazon would be their only customer, and Amazon would give them the volume of packages to support their business. So Amazon said, “individuals with little to no logistics experience have the opportunity to run their own delivery business.”

    • Trinacria says:

      Amazing how many folks out there complain and yet “they” know Amazon is not good for the country on so many levels, but “they” keep ordering the garbage that Amazon procures. When it comes to Amazon, I am a “virgin” as I have never ordered anything from them and my life is just fine. This is a hard a fast rule with me – no exceptions. I am certainly not a big shopper, but when I do order something on line, I check Amazon for reference only, and often they are NOT the lowest price. So, just say NO to Amazon for your own good, your neighbor’s good as well as that of the country. If each person were to do this, things would begin to change…slowly at first, then all of a sudden. Gee, where have I heard that before?

      • Joan of Arc says:

        Amazon won’t end the world and the world won’t end Amazon.

        • Cas127 says:


          I agree – Wolf has a quasi apocalyptic tone on this one and I think he is going a bit far.

          Amazon has small margins (if huge revenues) and it had to find a way to get out from under UPS and FedEx (not exactly pitiable small businesses themselves) and the USPO (that longtime monopolist well known for its efficiency and financial effectiveness on behalf of the US taxpayer).

          The entirely new delivery network is at risk having Amazon being the sole/primary source of demand – and they need to act accordingly.

          But shedding a tear for displaced behemoths (at least one of which historically was a good example of enormous taxpayer f*ck-overy) is more than a bit rich.

          More new competitors=more consumer benefit.

          And I agree that Amazon’s rep for lowest cost is now in the fast receding past – but again, it is not hard to get off yr ass and Google alternatives.

          The sheer size of Amazon is causing people to lose their rational faculties.

        • intosh says:


          No one tried to convince you to shed a tear.

          The article simply explained the strategy, one that is quite common actually: the tech bait & switch, i.e. use technology and “startup” money (no profit margin required) to build a business attracting gig workers (side-stepping taxes, regulations, policies, laws) and kill tradition competitors (who must still show a profit); once the 900lbs gorrila of the market, start the squeeze.

        • Old-school says:

          Amazon will be a good case study one day. It seems to run an efficient operation, but it seems way over valued on any rational measure. How can anyone deserve a pe= 82 when you are already a large company. Like they say, in a recession the p and the e go down. That’s going to be a heck of a stock price drop

      • Brant Lee says:

        I’m surprised texting isn’t used more by local businesses. I get a text from a local lumber/home/garden center when specials pop up like oversupply sales, produce sales, etc. It sure gets me in their door. Meanwhile, the company saves money on expensive advertising on tv and newspaper bringing down costs.

      • Bobo says:

        Basically like the mother state owning everything and doling our the scraps to the good little comrade workers, jeee, where have I heard of this little operation before, the movie 1984 comes to mind plus much more, hmmm

      • a citizen says:

        The assertion that you can “often” find goods at lower prices may support your narrative, but the assertion is disingenuous. Although you may find one-off or discontinued or used or open-box product out there somewhere, often on eBay for example, but you will not find lower prices for new branded goods except on very rare occasion.

        Amazon’s requirement is that any individual seller must show that individual seller’s lowest price on Amazon for the product in question. Amazon makes no requirement that all sellers of the same product show the lowest known price for the same product.

        As such, you will only rarely (as in NOT often) find new branded product anywhere at a lower price than the price advertised by the brand owner on Amazon. Period.

        Amazon’s defense of their lowest price policy is draconian and if you are a merchant attempting to sell new product on Amazon while also advertising lower prices elsewhere, they (Amazon) will find out and you will be subjected to enforcement as outlined in the merchant agreement.

        As a result Amazon has created a price-fixing environment that actually benefits the manufacturers of high volume consumer products, and this is what is killing brick and mortar retail. There isn’t any retail competition in the marketplace on price or availability, unless the manufacturer intentionally executes a strategy to exclude their products from Amazon and other online markets.

        • Cas127 says:

          “Amazon’s requirement is that any individual seller must show that individual seller’s lowest price on Amazon for the product in question.”

          Since I have frequent first hand knowledge of better pricing of multiple pdts on multiple different websites other than Amazon – and have never seen the MFN rqmt you claim exists reported in the media, please provide some links to stories discussing this “best price” rqmt you say Amazon contractually requires.

    • van_down_by_river says:

      That’s more or less correct.

      Moral of the story: Own AMZN stock.

      Amazon is powerful, perhaps the most powerful entity in world history. Their lobbyists in DC write laws that we live by. They own Representatives and Senators. Money = Power = More Money.

      We have all decided to destroy our currencies to renege on our debts. Of course this will be devastating for our economies in the short run but once things start up again with new currencies AMZN will still be running the world. You would be crazy not to own this stock. I’m a little surprised you are still afforded the opportunity to own it (a flaw in the system that has not been corrected – yet).

      • Cas127 says:

        Hmm – if you have bought Amazon at an idiotic 100 PE, you have got to hype a bigger idiot to pay 150.

      • Bobber says:

        I wonder what happens to the quality of Amazon’s white collar workforce when the stock price quits rising, like lately. Amazon employees burn the candle on both ends. They’ve been willing to do that only because of the stock compensation.

        I heard the highest paid employees at Amazon get only about $170k cash salary. The rest is stock comp. When Amazon loses this stock price “subsidy”, provided by this irrational stock market, it will be a whole new environment for the company to operate in.

        • Buckaroo Banzai says:

          Not really, because those white collar workers will have no place to go. And even if they do go, they’ll just get replaced by H1-Bs who are willing to work for $85k cash salary.

        • char says:

          You need “cultural affinity” in retail.Hiring foreigner decision-makers does not work that well and Amazon’s white collar workers are wanted by third parties that sell at Amazon

      • Happy1 says:

        More powerful than Standard Oil or Microsoft or Google at the peak of their monopoly status? I doubt it.

        • NBay says:

          Don’t forget ITT. Probably the last big one one to be broken up?
          I’m not sure.

        • Buckaroo Banzai says:

          They are already far, far more powerful than Microsoft ever was.

          And Google? Why do you put the “peak of their monopoly status” in the past? Both Google and Amazo have a savage amount of monopoly power that is increasing at an exponential rate.

          We live in a corporate tyrant state and anybody who doesn’t recognize this isn’t paying sufficient attention.

      • NBay says:

        Of the top ten food producing conglomerates by sales in the world, only #’s 3, 5 and 7 are public stocks. The rest are PE. (per Yahoo Finance about 7-8 years ago, IIRC)
        The total number of listed stocks are half of what they were less than a couple decades ago or so, and declining.

        Your systemic flaw is being dealt with.

        • NBay says:

          Side note: ad is a pleasure to check out….I don’t understand the bitching about ads.

  2. Rev GJ says:

    How will the new anti-gig laws effect all this…I still have friends that own small trucking companies that are use to using owner-operators for some of their business…this is concerning California.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      That law is insane even by CA standards. It will be overturned in court soon. How can the govt dictate to someone that they must be a full time employee in order to earn a living?

      There is already a lawsuit in the works by freelance writers. There will be many more.

  3. TooSoonOld says:

    Amazon has exported its dangerous warehouse working conditions to the streets:

    “In interviews over the course of eight months, drivers described a variety of alleged abuses, including lack of overtime pay, missing wages, intimidation, and favoritism. Drivers also described a physically demanding work environment in which, under strict time constraints, they felt pressured to drive at dangerously high speeds, blow stop signs, and skip meal and bathroom breaks.”

  4. California Bob says:

    re: ” … such as its Alexa smart speaker …”

    I’m a pedant splitting hairs here, but isn’t the smart speaker known as ‘Echo’ or ‘Echo Dot?’ Alexa is the creepy ‘personality’ inhabiting the device (neither of which will ever be allowed residence in my house).

    • Frederick says:

      Allowed is the keyword It may soon be mandated by law and enforced by Amazon goons

      • California Bob says:

        “… enforced by Amazon goons”

        You mean ‘associate entrepreneurs,’ right?

  5. Just Some Random Guy says:

    More competition, lower prices. Love it.

  6. Waldo says:

    Don’t be surprised if Amazon eventually expands their delivery service to handle packages from other retailers. Bezos hasn’t missed an opportunity thus far so I wouldn’t sell him short.

    • Sammy Iyer says:

      In India ,Since 2013 launch, Amazon built “Amazon Transportation Services Ltd” as a independent company from the ground up. They have to do it because the established competitor Flipkart (bought over by Walmart for 15 Billion $ in 2018) had Ekart delivery system & was offering COD!. In India “70% of ecom sales is Cash on Delivery” . Though Fedex/DHL offers COD, you have to have your own delivry mechanism to collect & manage cash flow . Now 75% of Amazon India sales is “Fulfilled by Amazon ” both merchandise from Amazon fulfilled ware house & fully packed labelled merchandise collected by Amazon transport Reps from 3rd party sellers warehouse . Though Amazon not yet shipping other ecom opertator’s mechandise, Amazon’s competition (walmart’s) Flipkart floated their transport wing Ekart seperately & has become a independent entity & ships all ecom websites products (similar to fedex but ecom focussed)

    • MC01 says:

      If Amazon is using Japan Incorporated as its model (which seems very likely), they are going to do it sooner than later. In fact they may even encourage members of their own keiretsu to aggressively seek business from the outside, only to savagely punish them if they get too cozy with the competition like Honda did with Showa Corporation.

      Amazon Air has a pretty low utilization rate, considerably lower than DHL that exclusively operates air freighter for them in Europe, and is adding capacity at breakneck speed. They have 50 freighters in service right now and firm orders (through leasing companies) for 20 more to be delivered through 2021. Even assuming their present rate of growth will continue for a decade they have plenty of capacity to spare, capacity that could be put on the market at any time through brokers.
      If I were FedEx or UPS I’d start to plan for that fateful moment: lean cows and all of that.

    • JoeZFL says:

      As a substantial FedEx user for our e-commerce operation, that is something I will follow. More competition for delivery dollars would certainly be good.

  7. Microsoft created a quasi government agency, (personal computing), with it’s own regulations, and bureaucracy. Bezos raised the stakes. after trying and failing to interface with older government regulatory systems in Queens. Like Boeing they failed. The fall back is the vertical arrangement, co opting transportation, is like putting windows in every PC. Microsoft was not good for technology, and Amazon is not good for retail, but the system will provide balance, like tech bubble two, when Apple rose from the ashes. Retail is not dead just sleeping.

    • Old Engineer says:

      I agree with you. The vertical integration squeeze Wolf predicts has the seeds of its own destruction built in. The delivery business is labor intensive and you can only squeeze so hard before it starts to fall apart. Undependable deliveries will limit the e-commerce growth curve.

  8. John Taylor says:

    You have to admit it’s a smart idea on Amazon’s part, and it’s really extraordinary how fast modern corporations can transform the economy today.

    Using the Uber/Lyft style model and pushing it through the delivery chain enabled Amazon to create an army of essentially gig-employees of Amazon in just a year.

    This new flexible economy can be amazing in some ways, but the more it grows, the more people will see the need for government to help replace the benefits workers previously got through employers such as access to affordable health care, retirement plans, and somehow provide enough economic security to be able to set roots in an area – rent an apartment, raise a family and so on.

    I’m sure we’ll see a lot about that question this coming year – debates on how we can allow the economy to continue on it’s current path and still serve the bulk population. Should the economy should be changed to force career-track jobs back in? Should government plug the holes once covered by a highly unionized workforce (1950’s-1980’s style)? Should the unions be brought back? Or should people continue to fight their own way through the gig economy in classic survival-of-the-fittest manner? Do mega-corporations help the US citizens against the world, or do they shove US citizens in a corner? Note that our form of democracy is not in question and the world will not end here – we are just at a time of change. I find it fascinating.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      How come nobody asks gig workers what THEY want? The default position is that a) gig workers want to be FTEs and b) govt knows what’s best for workers. Neither is accurate.

    • NBay says:

      As do I. VERY VERY fascinating. However I have never been “fulfilled” by Amazon or anyone else of that ilk, and hopefully never will have to, so I will defer to South Park for my thoughts on Bezos and the whole movement, and let it go at that. My 500 sq ft apt has been full (or filled) quite enough, as have I, and I have enough savings and treasuries, to lose to inflation for another 10-15 years and probably still leave some money and 40 acres in a beautiful Mendocino Co. hills area next to where I once built a house from bare ground up and lived off grid (12 years of weekends and vacations, and 4 years full time) to loved ones.
      Happy Holidays.

    • char says:

      I would call it more the TPG/German style package delivery than relatively new companies like Uber/Lyft. and yes, the economy should be changed to more career track jobs, more government interference, more union and even more people fighting their own battles (but that last one doesn’t work that well)

      • Just Some Random Guy says:

        Again, what if people do NOT WANT career track jobs, but want the flexibility and freedom of gig work?

        “the economy should be changed to more career track jobs, “

        • John Taylor says:

          They have a U6 Unemployment rate to include people with part time jobs who want to work full time … those people exist.

          Employers determine the job mix according to the rules of the road … Employees don’t have much power or sway.

          I think you can assume that most adults would like more independence – which typically includes things like the ability to rent an apartment, cover emergency medical expenses, and plan for retirement.

          When I was a teen in the 90’s, part time jobs were often taken by teenagers looking for extra cash. Many of those jobs are taken by adults now – not because teens won’t work, but because adults need the work and don’t quit after summer break or graduation. The world has changed a lot in 25 years.

        • intosh says:


          It’s as if we’re asking a eighteen year-old with no disposable income living alone what he wants: delivering pizza+washing dishes to, or go to summer school and do unpaid apprenticeship. Answer: what he wants is what pays most. Duh!

          “I have a degree and companies are willing to hire me as a professional. But I choose to be a gig worker because I like not knowing if I will still be paid the same 12 months from now or if there’ll even be a viable market” — says no one.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Agree with you re fascinating!
      As one who sold newspapers in the street age 7 after dad said no to my request for a new football, then continued being a gig worker delivering papers, mowing lawns, working up eventually to licensed general contractor and now ”semi-retired” contract construction analyst, I see these new models increasing cost efficiency at every step so far, not counting the social costs.
      IMHO, the resolution of the social costs of these new models of businesses/services will end with all legitimate (non black market) businesses become either fully unionized up to and including top management or entirely employee owned, which is already happening as in Publix, PCL and many other construction companies, both general and specialty contractors.
      In the bottom of the last crash in the construction industry, I was receiving the best electrical bids from a company that was both all union and all employee owned, and they also did the best job — if my company superintendents could keep the other folks out of their way…

  9. MCH says:

    The only question At this stage is who do we want to be our ruler. at this stage is who do we want to be our ruler. Jefe Jeff or comrade Vladimir. And by the way, I use their first name because somewhere they have a Dr. evil style project going on to provide them with immortality.

    • paul easton says:

      Cheer up MCH. Everything is going down the tubes. Climates are failing and governments are falling and everyone will be SOOL, including them.

    • Tankster says:

      Ha. Best post. Look at a pic of Jeff in 2002 and now. From nerd to terminator. HGH is a wonderful thing,FWIW I just saw the new Bruce ovie, no longer Asbury Park, but a 10k acre ranch in CA. Who looks like that at 70?

    • NBay says:

      Immortality? No problemo. Just pick up the religious text of your choice, or if you are lazy, go listen to one of the many people who have spoken with the leader of the cosmos.
      I figure that calling gives the world’s oldest profession a good run for it’s money, and it’s legal.

  10. Jeff Relf says:

    I took on a “3 month” gig in 1993 (ABA.COM),
    and I’m still doing it today, near 2020;
    it was the 2nd best decision I’ve ever made
    ( my vasectomy was the best decision ).

    Worldwide, people are having fewer children;
    most likely, a child will ruin your life.

    Upon delivery, (robo) -call- me, please !!

    A (robo) -call- is better than a text,
    and delivery companies can’t seem to text me
    (VoIP.MS) even though everyone else can.

    • Frederick says:

      Children can be a blessing or a curse for sure but in my case even though it was far from perfect due to my crazy ex wife I would do it all again if given the chance Costs were high but so were the gifts and I wasn’t a very good father because I was always working to support my family

    • RagnarD says:

      I would put it this way, when I consider what are the greatest achievements of my life / most important things I have done, everything pales when I compare them to raising children.

      I’m in no way trying to belittle others “non child raising“ achievements, it’s just that when I consider my “achievement X“ vs what would be the void of that child / person’s non existence, it’s kind of “checkmate”.

    • RagnarD says:

      Thinking further….
      having kids inadvertently with a pyscho partner / out of wedlock, etc……
      yeah, that could be a pretty life crushing event. So obviously, “it depends.” :)

    • DAVID J CASTELLI says:

      A child will ruin your life? I am wondering what the world would be like if your parents thought the same thing

    • TXRancher says:

      Two biological mandates are 1) Survive 2) Propagate.
      If you choose not to propagate then Darwins theory is working on your family lineage.

      I can say without any doubt that the two greatest things I have ever done are my two sons.

      • NBay says:

        Now explain your bio-wisdom to the parents of sons who died in a jungle or desert at 18-19 (or in a ghetto shooting, industrial accident, or jail) simply because their parents were not wealthy enough.
        Obviously there are more than biological mandates involved in lineage selection, am I not correct?
        For that matter, how could you possibly know your genes are worth passing on, anyway?
        Nothing is simple.

  11. illumined says:

    Thinking about this topic some more I can’t help but wonder how much of Amazon’s success has simply been because of the unusually cheap financing available in the last 25 years. A parallel would be the famous Japan Inc companies in the 1970’s and 80’s. They went from one industry after another, semiconductors, consumer electronics, etc and just dominated them. It seemed like nothing could stop the Japanese from instantly becoming successful in anything they touched……

    Then the late 80’s bubble burst and Japan Inc went into a slow but substantial decline after credit became more difficult for them to obtain. The position Silicon Valley is in today was unimaginable 30 years ago when everyone assumed the Japanese would just own everything by now. Amazon’s success does look a lot like that, they way they are able to dump products at below market costs being a great example. So ultimately anti-trust action is certainly one way of dealing with the Amazon goliath, but maybe simply reining in excess credit would work nearly as well.

    • Anon1970 says:

      A big share of Amazon’s early success related to the fact that it did not collect state and local sales tax in most of the country, especially the large states.

      • Sammy Iyer says:

        You will be surprised to know in India {2nd biggest Ecom market in the world next to China in unit volume (not$ wise) , Indian Tax officials |made it compulsory for Amazon to report Taxable sales, invoice wise every month. All sellers both (Amazon 49% shareholding ) Premium Sellers & 3rd party sellers have to add Amazon warehouse address “as additional place of business” as a precondition to store goods in Amazon warehouse. After the introduction of comprehensive GST in India in 2017 , no ecom operator can start business with out a Nation wide GST no. Amazon (as a platform for ecom sellers )can not allow a single seller with out a GST no & has to report all sales with tax bracket to TAX man. So all ecom sales some what 90% sales tax complaint. Also Amazon collects 1-2% Tax deposit & remits to Govt. All ecom sellers have to show the TAX credit (debited by Amazon) & pay the tax balance dues monthly.

    • Amazon as it exists today is entirely a bubble phenomenon. Moneyprinting and low rates made profit-free expansion possible. Amazon has been competing with companies required to turn a profit while remaining exempt. That will change as the bubble pops.

    • Sammy Iyer says:

      Operational “Cheap Financing ” based on USA stock market valuation is the “fuel” that fires up all amazon global expansion even at operational loss. For example in India (Central Bank discount rate is 5.5% ,1 year Fised Deposit rate is 7%,commercial loans are 7% minimum for top corporates/ 9%+++for all mortals) ,Amazon is spending 1Billion $ yearly on building big Fulfillment warehouses & discounting 20% below the whole sale price for all kind of merchandise including dry /fresh groceries same day delivery & building predominant ecomm market share since 2013. (Walmart owned Flipkart is the serious equal competitor doing the almost the same thing) All local small/medium physical retail chains have no chance in hell competitng with amazon /walmart with thier captal/bank loans costing 7-9% per annum.
      India is Amazon’s biggest market unit wise (not $ wise) & Amazon offers “cash on delivery ” on all Amazon fulfilled orders. If you use “Amazon Pay” or prepaid mostly one gets further 10-15% extra deiscount. Doubting thomas Buyer’s go for “cash on delivery”most of the time being content with a lower price than a physical store (including yours truly)

    • VintageVNvet says:

      IMO, although the financing was certainly a part of the success of the Japanese at the time you mention, THE most important part of that success was their rapid implementation of the work of Dr. Deming.
      That work was rejected by most American industry until the results were very clearly proven by the vastly increased quality of all most all Japanese products.
      And I think we are still paying the price for that failure of management, though certainly catching up somewhat in the last couple of decades.

    • Paulo says:

      Reading these comments I need to chime in. It isn’t just Amazon. And it’s all related. The complexity of our hurry up society and get it all now and cheaper is just a wee bit soul destroying, imho. I mentioned a few months ago my sister talking to Alexa. I made some crack, a red neck luddite comment about Alexa listening and I was ssshed out of a fear/concern the damn box would recognise her name and come to life….like Hal in 2001 Space Odyssey. “Don’t disturb Alexa”. I was astounded.

      So here we are. People will use their phones and call Uber. People order fast food and meals to go. People stream their entertainment and talk to Alexa. And shoppers will order through Amazon. Then what’s to complain about? People can just say, “NO”. This stuff wouldn’t exist if people didn’t use the products.

      I’m 64 and was finally forced to succumb to buying a flip phone that you buy minutes to use. It does nothing else. I bought it because all the pay phones have been removed. Last night (Christmas) I had to drive my father-in-law to hospital. I used the phone to tell my wife I was leaving, (1:00 am), that it was foggy and I would be driving slow to get home. Safely. Done. For the emergency room wait I brought a book, egads…a real live paperback. In the waiting room there was he usual crop of people trying to cage a sleep, but mostly folks scrolled endlessly on their phones or started dumbly at a big screen that wouldn’t change channels.

      People can decide what their World and living experience looks like. We are not victims of these events. Trinicria siad it very well in the above comments. The way to get rid of squids like Bezos is to not use their products. My last point. Years ago I used to order tractor parts from an outfit in Arkansas. They used UPS, which on the Canadian side of the border is absolute crap service. They contract out final stage delivery and stuff gets damaged or lost. The supplier wouldn’t use the mail. They reluctantly would use Fed Ex. I haven’t bought anything from them for almost 10 years. Rural Canada Post service is absolutely the best delivery option out there for Canucks. I am sure USPS could do just as well if given the chance.

      • Just Some Random Guy says:

        “Reading these comments I need to chime in. It isn’t just Amazon. And it’s all related. The complexity of our hurry up society and get it all now and cheaper is just a wee bit soul destroying, imho. I mentioned a few months ago my sister talking to Alexa. I made some crack, a red neck luddite comment about Alexa listening and I was ssshed out of a fear/concern the damn box would recognise her name and come to life….like Hal in 2001 Space Odyssey. “Don’t disturb Alexa”. I was astounded.”

        My kids often say things like the robots will take over some day so we all have to say nice things about Alexa, then she’ll treat us nicely. And they’ll tell Alexa “you’re awesome Alexa”, and Alexa responds with “Thanks”. And everyone laughs.

        It’s called – get this – making a joke. Lighten up dude.

        • NBay says:

          I like redneck luddite humor much better than yours……so you lighten up…..fair enough?
          Your main function here is to tick off coastal elite snowflakes (BTW I rode the bus for 12 miles one way right ON HWY ONE to school so I am as coastal elite snowflake as one can get….any more coastal and I would have been in the damned ocean) as encouraged by Hannity, et al.
          But it’s ok, you are a fellow American also, and your guy won so feel free to attempt the irritation of us evil ones.

      • Dave Kunkel says:

        I’m 72 and have had a cell phone for the last 10 years that only allows me to make and receive calls for the same reason as you. Pay phones no longer seem to exist.

  12. Petunia says:

    Good article but I wouldn’t worry too much. All of the big tech companies are on their way to getting broken up. Amazon is probably first on the list.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Do you think the chances are that high that Amazon gets broken up? I think this is going to be very tough. I agree that there is some chance, but I don’t see this chance anywhere near a certainty. But maybe I’m reading this wrong.

      • Lt says:

        I do believe that Amazon will be split up or at least face regulation some how. Of all the FAANG, I see the most anti-competitive issues with Amazon.

        There have been investigative reports of resellers that would sell on Amazon and once they had a good business going, Amazon would come in and offer the same product and undercut their price / costs and in some cases destroy their sales / business after they’d invested a lot into product and warehousing. So Amazon is using data its collecting from its resellers who’ve built their business on the platform to directly compete with them. I could see a situation where they regulate Amazon such that it cannot directly compete with its resellers.

        Resellers must use “fulfillment by amazon (fba)” to win the “buy box” on a product listing. FBA requires resellers to pay Amazon for shipping and handling from the warehouse in addition to its fees of 15%+ of purchase price for each item. So FBA vs direct from merchant competition for the “buy box” is clearly a competitive issue in my opinion.

        Those are the top two issues that come to my mind.

        The easy answer in a free market is to suggest that resellers find other platforms but that’s just not realistic. With product searches almost always done on the web, it’s very hard for the little guy to get on the first page of a web search since those with the big $s for ads will always take the top spots.

        • Sammy Iyer says:

          In India Amazon got only lience as a ecom platform (can not sell on its own). But Amazon found a loop hole & started with Indian Corporate partners as 49:51ecom selling structure’s and starting selling with very low commission structure for its own outfits compared to 15-30% fees for all 3rd party resellers. All best selling SKU’s were copied &taken over slowly by Amazon’s own marketing wing so that in the last 3-4 years Amazon’s affliated super sellers (with low fees/free shipping) are the top sellers in all categories.
          I was a 3rd party reseller in Amazon & made handsome profits in Amazon during 2013-2017 .But I refused to join “Amazon Fulfiulled” and shipped on my own (with my own Fedex a/c as I wanted absolute control ). That means my lising will hardly will be in the 1st page. 1st year Amazon charged me starting rate of 5% flat fees ( Iam handling everything else .no storage fee, no advertising,shipping is my expense ),2nd year 8-12% fees , 3rd year 18% fees, 4th year 21% fees . when Fees increased to 30% in 2017,I quit ecom selling (from all portals as well after having banked some sizeable profits in the early years due to humongous scale of selling to the masses.) I launched with ebay in 2012 before Amazon came to India & sold simultaneously in walmart’s Flipkart & 3 other ecom web sites. But the big sales volumes & profits however low were only in Amazon.

      • IdahoPotato says:

        Amazon could voluntarily spin off AWS into a separate company.

      • Petunia says:


        Answering this question will take us into the political realm, a place you don’t like to go. Suffice it to say that Amazon has lost one big govt contract already, and they are suing. Now they are on the radar, so to speak.

        Google was smarter and started the process themselves, but they are also on the radar. Same thing for FB. Also it’s not just in America they have gone too far, Europe hates them all too.

  13. Goose says:

    A long time ago before electricity, etc. I was working for a lender who loaned on assets. One of the things we noticed was that any time a single customer provided more than 30% of the sales it was not long before that got larger (50% and more) and margins began to evaporate. The key in these situations was that they (the biggie) demanded marginal pricing and the regular customer was expected to cover the costs not covered by marginal pricing. Did not work and by the time we got called most times it was over.

    So these guys making money now will not be when the transition is complete. When the owner compares time and capital invested vs return they wil know how they were trapped. Classic bufoo of the sub.

  14. c1ue says:

    Excellent overview, but the pushback has already begun.
    Among other things: an ex-Amazon executive was killed by an Amazon “partner” delivery driver.
    Secondly, the squeeze is not taking any time at all. Among other things: high delivery demand, delivery experience vs. warm bodies (i.e. the Uber vs. taxi problem) and that each additional delivery driver on the road makes the overall throughput worse for everyone else (also Uber problem).
    Amazon is certainly trying hard to push deaths and liability to the partners, but they’re so big that nobody is getting fooled.
    I’d also note that, at least for SF, UPS has shown they have expertise. The people who own the routes I am on have been doing it for a long time. They know where they can park, they know how to orient routes to minimize traffic impact and they know how to consolidate packages to deliver efficiently on foot+hand cart vs. just driving.

  15. RD Blakeslee says:

    Happy Christmas and Merry New Year, everybody!

  16. raxadian says:

    Let’s not forget that contractors are not employees and subcontractors even less.

    The huge problem is that when you cut corners and costs; quality goes down.. Deliveries will start to arrive damaged and or not in time.

    And so customers will be forced to pay for the premium service but wait! It will only be a matter of time even the premium service starts to suck too.

    And then what?

  17. NBay says:

    I have a good Mendo Co. hills friend who uses that for his gate combo. To deter or at least irritate religious types. Don’t try to guess where in the hills he is, though. He, like everyone else who lives, or lived up there (including me back then) is armed to the teeth, and at least half Viet Vets. You hear full auto often up there.
    We are rural raised redneck liberals. Mendo went over 2:1 Bernie over Hillary, highest in state of CA.

  18. RagnarD says:

    Great article Wolf
    And Merry Christmas

  19. Duane says:

    I have has delivery problems with Amazon lately, packages that were “delivered” but I didn’t get them. One was to the house next door, one I don’t know where it went (I think it went to the other house next door but can’t be sure). I have never had a problem with USPS, UPS, or FedEX, only with packages specifically delivered by Amazon. I bet it is related to what I am reading here with the new Amazon delivery model.

    • raxadian says:

      Not all mail delivers get to were they are supposed to go, no matter what deliver service you use. That’s why I tend to pay extra for Registered mail/Certified Mail.

  20. Lt says:

    For many, having a “gig” career can seem great in a booming economy. However, there are benefits that employees may receive that gig workers do not: 1) health insurance 2) unemployment benefits 3) 401k 4) paid time off. I suspect that these will become more obvious once we enter a recession and more people are impacted because they do not have these things. Especially unemployment benefits.

    And what happens when people lose their regular employment and turn to gigs to make ends meet? More uber drivers fighting for a dwindling amount of trips. More resellers fighting for a decreasing amount of purchases. And so on. Like a race to the bottom for everyone with no benefits to fall back on.

    I’m a believer in free markets but the government will have to step in (like in CA) and protect the workers because what we have now is truly a situation where all the risk is placed on the back of the worker with not enough reward.

    • Paulo says:

      The gig economy is the modern version of sharecropping. Why are the same battles being fought over and over? Why do people willingly accept it?

      • raxadian says:

        In Latin America they are called “Contratos basura” o “Trabajos basura”.

        “Gig economy” is just shameless rebranding.

      • Happy1 says:

        People do gig work because it is flexible. And it’s less expensive as a business model because benefit costs are excluded. The real question is why we have this artificial distinction between full time employee with benefits and independent contractor status. Everyone would be better served if benefits were severed from employment status.

  21. John Beech says:

    It’s not just logistics. It’s smarter than the other guy. Walmart super center nearby. We began patronizing it and our regular supermarket (Albertson’s) closed soon thereafter. Like Albertson’s felt I’d done it to myself by shopping elsewhere. lots of my neighbors had also. better prices. Shoe is now on the other foot. Supercenter stopped carrying my favorite coffee, Folgers breakfast Blend. Dry goods manager said they had too many and something had to go. my bad luck. Looked it up on Amazon. Two days later I had it. An they offered me a subscription. not sure if that’s the right amount/month (what they offered) but I wrote the date on the container with a Sharpie. Got me thinking. Maggie (dog) loves Greenies. Chewy thing that cleans her teeth. Supercenter only offers me a small 11-count package. Smug pet food manager said it’s the only size. Lie because pet store has 30-count. Ticked me off when he added it made me come back every week or two. Hah! Checked Amazon. Ordered 96-count package and signed up for the 3-month subscription. Close enough to one a day that will work for me. What’s next? Dry creamer and/or coffee filters would be a natural fit for me. Stupid Walmart hasn’t learned the right lesson. May survive Amazon, maybe not.

  22. George W says:

    I am an Amazon delivery driver.

    It is not a profitable business model.

    People love the service as Amazon is currently accountable to no one.
    This will not last.

  23. Gold is says:

    “..Your business thrives or dies by the grace of Amazon…”

    How is this different to being ‘ employed’ by most/virtually all business these days, from a two employee grass cutting op to a multi-national ?

    There is zilch employee security, except in gubermunt – and thankfully, even that is being eroded … sooner the better..

    You want unrestrained, unbridled Capitalism, you got it. Enjoy!

    (Oh! I’m OK with that)

    • Gold is says:

      I’m OK with that because I worked 3 jobs for 2 years to bank-roll myself into a small business on a wing & a prayer then retired before 40. No college degree, just hard work.

      Sick of leaners, loafers & cry babies. Cut food stamps & bring it on.

      • GirlInOC says:

        “Cut food stamps & bring it on”

        “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime”~ Aristotle

        bring it on

        • Gold is says:

          Glad we agree.. Aristotle at least got that one right though crossed swords with his mentor & teacher on other matters (“Life’s purpose is to be happy” LOL!!)

          This economic/immoral sucker is going down, big time and the revolution – that has begun without the US of A and other cry- baby countries – will, I hope, wipe the slate clean.


          But bring it on anyway. This fraud & farce and delusion/illusion cannot continue.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Gold is,

      “..Your business thrives or dies by the grace of Amazon…”

      I think you misunderstood. This was a warning for small businesses. There is an ancient rule: diversify your revenues to where you can lose/walk away from one source of revenues and still be OK. If your entire business is based on one customers, and something changes, you’re screwed. You lose your business. You’re done. Having just one customers that generates 100% of your revenues is a terribly vulnerable business. Nothing to do with capitalism, and everything to do with prudent business practice.

      • HR01 says:



        There have been many companies who have done Tango Ultra over the years due to over-reliance on a single customer. Witness Dean Foods this year. Largest milk company in the U.S. but derived something like 15% of its revenues from Wal Mart. The bad boys of Benton decided they didn’t need Dean anymore and set up their own milk processing supply chain in-house. Six months later, Dean filed bankruptcy.

        Legal beagles will have a field day with Amazon and these 100% order flow schemes. How are any of the entities not wholly-owned subsidiaries if these delivery firms rely 100% on the parent for survival?

  24. Nicko2 says:

    Humans are the weakest link, delivery drones of all shapes and sizes are being prototyped and field tested around the world, an industrial robot is now cheaper than a manual laborer. There is no reason why the vast majority of Amazon’s operations can’t be completely automated. As for breaking up big tech…the US will do so at it’s peril, as China Politburo supported megacorps will have no such limitations.

  25. Jeff Relf says:

    The older generation is/was BURDENED by
    large families/houses; today’s kids have
    many more opportunities.

    California unions have passed legislation
    designed to “kill” millions of gig workers;
    ” We can’t compete, you must die “,
    I hear them say.

    Uber has vowed to continue operating
    as they currently do — God[*] bless them.

  26. Frederick says:

    Gold and Silver look to be breaking out higher again today Happy 2020 stackers from your resident gold bug who uses lousy or no proper punctuation ?

    • IslandTeal says:

      Fredrick… Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you…. Ag and Au options in 2020.

  27. IslandTeal says:

    Amazon continues to find more ways to make changes to the supply chain. They have pulled WMart into the 21st century. Kroger still doesn’t get it. Latest move is charging a fee for cash back on a debit card transaction……

  28. Iamafan says:

    In case you have not noticed, FedEx is one of the more modern companies who founder’s have named Indian-born CEOs. They join Microsoft, Google, and others. Congratulations for the well-deserved promotions. You have worked very hard without complaining.

    • Sammy Iyer says:

      Fedex founder & still acting chairman & CEO is “Frederick.W .Smith”. but President & COO is Indian American Rajesh Subramanian . Most ofthe Indian top ceo’s in us high tech companies came to usa during 1965-1995 for MS/MBA after studying Eng degree from top indian universities and joined as trainees after MS/MBA & climbed thro the ranks from ground up in respective companies. Few Notable Indian Americans :Sundar Pichai, CEO-Google/ Satya Nadella, CEO-Microsoft/ Rajeev Suri, CEO-Nokia/ Shantanu Narayen, CEO-Adobe/ Francisco D’Souza, CEO-Cognizant / Mrs Indra Nooyi CEO-Pepsico / AjayPal Sigh Banga ,CEO-Mastercard / Ivan Manuel Menezes (Roman Cathalic from Pune India ) CEO-Diageo,Rahul Samant, E.V.P. and CIO of DELTA airlines etc . Your average mom & pop motel owners all over USA are Patels from Gujarat,India. Most Singh (turban) run corner store & gas stations . Chinese & Indian& Korean students constitute 60% of STEM Post graduate MS/MBA admissions in all us top universites. H1B indian educated tech workers brought in to USA for 2/4/6 year duration by top US tech giants like Google/Facebook/Microsoft/Oracle etc are salary arbitrage oppurtunity mostly (say paying 60k$ for an equally qualified amercan costing $120k or more).80% Indian immigrants in to USA are Hindu/christian economic white collar immigrant variety. You wont see them crossing from south of the border or in to crime or religious nut jobs.

      • Ethan in NoVA says:

        “Equally qualified.”

        Adobe sucks. Many of their software lines have been pretty bad for a long time now. No idea how Microsoft is still so profitable, lackluster but no competition I guess. Their cloud is weak, Office 365 has lots of outages, Win10 is wonky, etc. Nokia has been in the toilet for a good while. You get good and bad with every group but I don’t buy it. I’ve got friends in the tech industry that tell me how horrible the H1B thing is and are worn out from trying to carry all the cheap labor. It’s shortsighted, and yea it pretty much ruined a lot of US companies products but that is the mantra of the US now. Some execs cashed out.

        And yes, I get to deal with it too. In multiple countries. If India is so great why are they all coming here?

  29. R Hughes says:

    If you were a paperboy in the 50’s recall the publisher sold you the papers each day wholesale with a monthly invoice due on the 6th usually. It was your responsibility to receive, wrap, deliver, collect, deal with damaged papers, etc. On the routes I had even with losses, skips, dead beats I averaged 25 -50 month. For a 12 to 16 year old that was good money and sure taught lots of skills. Add in grass mowing, hauling, misc other odd jobs and I put quite a bit into savings.
    Point is essentially a gig world, no safe space where kids today just play video games. Parent said you want money you got to earn it. Wow sure taught me reality very fast.

    • Iamafan says:

      In my neighborhood, those paperboys disappeared a generation or two, ago. Since I am up and awake early, I have seen paper-hispanic-moms in my area. They are probably married to the guys who do the lawns, trees, roofs, and the rest of the hard work.

      I know a few families like these. Strange that while they break their backs, they spoil their kids with iPhones, etc.

      My setting is New England and I have nothing against immigrants. I respect people who work, period. I mow my own lawn, and remove my own snow, and my wife goes to the city public dump and recycling site twice a week.

  30. Brant Lee says:

    Even though I’m not a fan of Walmart, I feel 100% better about ordering online from them than Amazon. Dillards is fantastic online. I’m hearing too many weird things about Amazon, it feels spooky.

  31. DR DOOM says:

    Amazon is a product of end cycle fiat money. Near 0% interest rates fuels the input and output of Amazon. 5% interest rates will deal with the fiat wonders. Governments will lose control of interest rates , it’s the fate of starting down the road of fiat. When it happens is not known but when symptoms appear the end is much closer than at the start, and the symptoms are showing. Amazon and Trump are both the symptoms of a sick system driven by a common malady.

  32. Andy Fanter says:

    This is the same kind of commentary I read about Walmart 20 years ago. Amazon has +-40% of internet sales in the US. It will likely slip into the 30s with challenges coming from Walmart, Target, Costco, Bestbuy among the bigger names. Amazon is smart for paying itself to deliver the packages.

    • Happy1 says:

      Yes, monopoly cannot exist for long in retail, its way too competitive, someone will eat Amazon’s lunch eventually.

  33. Olivier says:

    You are such a hard worker, Wolf: a transcript on Christmas Day!

  34. Unamused says:

    Sears had a catalog business over 100 years ago. It should have been easy for them to transition to e-commerce.

    What happened?

    • Iamafan says:

      Private Equity damned their future like many others.

      • Unamused says:

        So are some retailers going to be allowed to adopt e-commerce, and some are going to be prohibited? Why prohibit them? Are they a threat to favored retailers? Did they refuse to pay tribute?

        Is the retail sector going to be required to go online in its entirety? That would certainly amount to a system of mass control, wouldn’t it?

        In the future is all retail going to be Amazon, like all restaurants are going to be Taco Bell?

        “Control and Domination” indeed.

        If I were prone to paranoid tendencies, which I suppose could actually be possible, I might surmise that there’s a deep totalitarian game going on for which I have been completely unaware.

        It would tend to explain some of the patterns in bankruptcies over the last several years, and how traditional businesses are being replaced by ‘disruptive’ ones.

        Sometimes it’s not paranoia. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

  35. Unamused says:

    The links to the comments sections seem to have disappeared under the article titles on the home page and under the title on the article page. Has something changed?

    Us old guys don’t handle change as well as you young people. And the world has been changing in ways I find disconcerting. If not genuinely disturbing. It’s like the whole world has been going to hell in a handbasket ever since David Lee Roth broke up with Van Halen and Keith Moon ODed on the medication for his alcoholism.

    I’m going to go stain some baseboards and think about it.

    • Unamused says:

      The links are back:

      How Amazon Gains Control & Domination
      by Wolf Richter • Dec 25, 2019 • 84 Comments

      The lights are back up too. Now I know what Paula Alquist must’ve gone through, poor woman. Maybe I should check the attic.

      There’s so much I don’t know about internet technologies.

      I need schnapps.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, that was an experiment. A Google Search bot for mobile has been flagging the layout of my site as “clickable content too close together” and “font too small to read” without giving further indications. we suspected the byline (author, date, comments) under the title. So on mobile, we changed all kinds of things (increased font, increased padding, removed 2 of the 3 links), and nothing worked to remove the flags. Then over Christmas, the lowest traffic period over the year (for the least amount of disruption), I removed the line entirely, to see if Google approves, but it has changed nothing. After I got confirmation from Google that the flags were still there, I put the line back in, as you can now see.

      Google bots, when they’re throwing their weight around, are terrible to deal with. This is what life with AI is like. AI doesn’t care.

  36. TownNorth says:

    Yesterday’s comment thread had an interesting discussion about global warming. If you haven’t seen photographer James Balog’s documentary “Chasing Ice” I highly recommend you watch it. He was a climate skeptic and stationed thousands of cameras in arctic environments, with them clicking away every few minutes over a period of many years, a decade I think. The result is astonishing. Its available as a 20 minute Ted Talk or a two-hour documentary.

  37. TownNorth says:

    Here’s the link to the Chasing Ice Ted Talk:

  38. Cobalt Programmer says:

    Hello Wolf and commenters and silent readers,

    Happy new year and this is also a start of new decade.
    I wish all those bulls get a roaring twenties and bears equally get a recession they secretly hoping for. As usually guys like me gets by just looking at the world.

    I would request Wolf to publish a summary of this decade like what happened from 2010 on-wards to until now or 2019 hits and misses like a summary. The important one I liked is how Fed quickly reduced the rates and now negative rates are on the horizon. I understand if you are on vacation and enjoying the holidays.

  39. Naresh says:

    Snooze Amazon thank you for helping the economy you guys are helping small businesses deliver I don’t know why everybody so upset about it it’s capitalism way to go boys all the power to Amazon they make sure we get good deals you’re being hosed by all these retailers Amazon came and helped the economy it’s about time we give thanks to them way to go mr. Bizos should get The Nobel Prize

  40. cd says:

    change is good, Amazon is here for a reason…Efficiency and time capacity management are elements missing in many a business

    Man, what a run on equities, banking so many R’s I might have to hire someone for the menial tasks, expect more next year, all the bears are dead, too much Zeroedge and doom…..

    big truck orders decline, so do other things…

  41. Michael Engel says:

    Wolf, happy new year.
    Great article.
    1) AMZN = BA, not vertical.
    2) BA : up from 2009 @ 30 to 446 in 2019, in the next few years will tank 250.
    3) AMZN belong to consumer discretionary/ broadline retailers.
    4) AMZN disrupt the DJT.
    5) AMZN get Ford transit on memo (lease). If AMZN doesn’t
    have provision to return for credit 30% – 50% of their fleet, in the next
    recession they will have a large idle fleet. A cost center do
    nothing all day.
    6) AMZN deliver expensive packages. Expensive goods get stolen.
    Expensive pcs have to be insured, delivered in a van with a security
    guard and get a signature upon delivery.
    7) The trade war with China is not only about US jobs.
    In the arena of future wars there are nukes, stealth bombers,
    drones, cyber attacks, financial attacks, blockades, propaganda
    This arena expanded thanks to the wisdom and means of
    wall street financial experts, media, the tech giants adding spices
    to the nonwar military actions. There is no use of weapons. US
    conduct multipule spheres against a rising threatening opponent.
    When US resolve the problems with China, AMZN will get shot in the
    cross fire.
    8) The NASDAQ 38Y backbone lift it up : Aug 1982 low to Oct 1990 low
    and June 1993 above.
    9) Perfect symmetry. From 2000 til 2020 peak = 20Y. From 2000 to
    1982(L) = 20Y.
    10) From Oct 2002 to Mar 2009 = 6.5Y. From Mar 2009 to 2020 = 11Y.
    The golden rule ratio : 0.618 : 1.
    11) Good luck

  42. Rowena Millis says:

    And *this* news about Amazon is the exact reason why NO ONE IN MY FAMILY EVER uses its services.

Comments are closed.