From Our President: Why We Need Competition
Across the country, Americans are looking at grocery bills, watching gas prices tick up—and wincing. Skyrocketing costs for food, fuel, housing, and travel make it hard to forget inflation is the highest it has been since the 1980s.
Inflation is clearly weighing on your minds: A nationally representative CR survey of 2,076 U.S. adults this past May found that 85 percent are at least moderately concerned about higher prices, and just over half said they’re more cautious in their spending habits than they were six months ago.
The ongoing debate over the cause of our current inflation might not offer solace—but it has led to overdue recognition that competition matters to the economy and to consumers.
Take this year’s baby formula crisis. Parents scrambled to buy formula amid a shortage exacerbated by a recall and factory closure. The crisis spotlighted a troubling truth: Four companies control about 90 percent of the U.S. baby formula supply. That concentration means higher costs and more risk for consumers when recalls and shortages take even a few brands out of commission.
It’s not just one industry—from Big Tech to agriculture, broadband to healthcare, consolidation is limiting consumer choice across the economy. Taking that on is a daunting task, but there are things you can do to navigate this environment. Our cover story, “How to Save Money Now,” shows how to cut costs on everything from monthly utility charges and groceries to medical bills. But to help create a fair, competitive economy, we need a strong, consumer-powered movement to demand that change.
My upcoming book, “Buyer Aware,” shines a light on how consumers, business, and government can work together to build a marketplace that serves everyone. It includes step-by-step advice on growing your power in the marketplace. To learn more, go to buyeraware.cr.org.
Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the September 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.