The Most Interesting People I Know

15 - Matt Stoller on Fighting Monopoly Power and Why Obama Was Actually Bad

October 16, 2019

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Institute and the author of Goliath: the 100 Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy (out now!). He was previously a Senior Policy Advisor and Budget Analyst to the Senate Budget Committee and worked in Congress on financial services policy, including Dodd-Frank, the Federal Reserve, and the foreclosure crisis. Matt has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New Republic, and elsewhere. As we discuss, Matt had a brief excursion in Hollywood, where he was a writer and actor on a TV show with Russell Brand. You may be most familiar with Matt from his very active and entertaining Twitter feed (@mattherstoller).

Goliath is a “big idea” history coming at the right time. Concentrated corporate power affects your life every day, in ways both subtle and obvious. The domination of key industries by a handful of megacorporations is not the natural or permanent state of affairs. We have successfully fought and tamed monopolies before, but have forgotten how. Goliath reminds us of the way forward. 

We discuss:

Matt’s path from being a remorseful Iraq War supporter to being a vigorous opponent of concentrated financial power, the case for and against monopoly power, the neoliberal roots of the disastrous response to the financial crisis, the link between monopoly power and fascism, dangerous and desirable monopolies, the massive state intervention in the economy during and after WWII, the proper role for finance in society, the real basis for the American dream, the impact of fair trade laws and their repeal, whether small businesses are actually any better than big ones, how the ruling class frames their rule as inevitable, the law and economics movement, the Democrats’ betrayal of organized labor, the crisis of legitimacy for economics, antimonopoly’s political moment, and why Obama was actually bad. 

Show notes:

Matt’s work:

When American Capitalism Meant Equality

The Progressive Case Against Obama

Other links:

Louis Brandeis's book Other People’s Money, and How the Bankers Use It (free ebook)

Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Fred Dutton’s NYT Obituary

Obama’s not as tough on mergers as you think

On the Obama admin’s role in the 737 Max scandal: The emerging 737 Max scandal, explained

Obama Failed to Mitigate America’s Foreclosure Crisis

Obama officials’ failure to stop the opioid crisis