Report: Corporate Profiteering Fueling Inflation
Monday, April 11, 2022
A new report confirms what it said CEOs have been telling shareholders for months: Inflation has been very good for business.
Lindsay Owens, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, the group behind the report, said families in Nebraska and across the U.S. are on the hook, as powerful corporations tap the pandemic's economic fallout to rake in record-breaking profits. Last year, corporate profit margins reached their highest level since 1950.
"Meanwhile, prices were soaring for American families," Owens pointed out. "CEOs and firms are not just passing on their rising costs, right? They're not just asking consumers to pay for inflation effectively. They're going for more."
In just one example uncovered by researchers of CEOs boasting during corporate earnings calls about price hikes and profits, the CEO of Constellation Brands, the parent company of popular beers Modelo and Corona, said the company planned to "take as much as [we] can" from its Hispanic customer base.
Owens noted if the playing field were level, other companies could take customers away from firms raising prices. But she emphasized virtual monopolies consolidated over past decades make it all but impossible. Tyson's CEO told shareholders it was raising prices to cover increased costs, plus a little extra.
"And that 'a little extra' is accelerating price hikes, and bringing in record profits for Tyson," Owens contended. "And because there are really only four major meatpackers, these guys are effectively all running the same pricing strategy. And there is really no one to undercut them."
Constellation Brands and Tyson have not yet responded to a request for comment. Last week Owens testified at a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing on price-gouging and corporate greed. She recommended the first option available to lawmakers to hold companies accountable is to make use of the tax code.
"Taxing excess and windfall profits will make profiteering less appealing to the large companies," Owens explained. "The second is thinking about enacting a federal price-gouging statute, and enforcing the laws already on the books."
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