Marc Levinson, Dec 13, 2011
Besides the article summarized below, we’re pleased to present an interview with Marc Levinson, author of the new book, The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. Among the interesting topics he discusses are the similarities between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the anti-chain store movement of the 50s, and the evolution of economic analysis in antitrust cases from none to very fancy models “with little resemblance to reality.”
U.S. v New York Great Atlantic & Pacific was the climax of decades of effort to cripple chain stores in order to protect mom-and-pop retailers and the companies that supplied them. The principal target was A&P, which was by far the largest retailer in the world. The struggle had less to do with the economics of the grocery trade than with competing visions of society, one favoring the rationalism of cold corporate efficiency as a way to increase wealth and raise living standards, the other harking back to a society of autonomous farmers, craftsmen, and merchants in which personal independence was the source of opportunity and prosperity.