Today, CEOs of big corporations are playing the tricky “Inflation Blame Game.”

Publicly, they moan that the pandemic is slamming their poor corporations with factory shutdowns, supply chain delays, wage hikes, and other increased costs. But inside their boardrooms, executives are high fiving each other and pocketing bonuses.

What’s going on? The trick is that these giants are in non-competitive markets operating as monopolies, so they can set prices, mug you and me, and scamper away with record profits.

In 2019 for example, before the pandemic, corporate behemoths hauled in roughly a trillion dollars in profit. In 2021, during the pandemic, they grabbed more than $1.7 trillion. This huge profit jump accounts for 60 percent of the inflation now slapping U.S. families!

Take supermarket goliath Kroger. Its CEO gloated last summer that “a little bit of inflation is always good in our business,” adding that “we’ve been very comfortable with our ability to pass on [price] increases” to consumers.

“Comfortable” indeed. Last year, Kroger used its monopoly pricing power to reap record profits. Then it spent $1.5 billion of those gains not to benefit consumers or workers, but to buy back its own stock — a scam that siphons profits to top executives and big shareholders.

Or take McDonald’s. It bragged to its shareholders that despite the supply disruptions of the pandemic and higher costs for meat and labor, its top executives had used the chain’s monopoly power in 2021 to hike prices, thus increasing corporate profits by a stunning 59 percent over the previous year.

And the game goes on: “We’re going to have the best growth we’ve ever had this year,” Wall Street banking titan Jamie Dimon exulted at the start of 2022.

Hocus Pocus. This is how the rich get richer and inequality “happens.”

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

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