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Is America Inc getting less dynamic, less global and more monopolistic?

We test three prevailing hypotheses about American business

Concerns about the health of American business are many and varied. Chief executives are chastised for their apparent short-termism. Their companies are berated for fetishising shareholders over everyone and everything else. Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, a maker of electric cars, grumbles about a surfeit of business-school graduates stifling innovation. President Joe Biden frets as much about American companies losing out to China as Donald Trump did (albeit with less bile). He also worries about the concentration of power among America’s biggest firms.

All this paints a picture of America Inc that looks stodgier, more parochial and monopolistic. If true, that would be bad news for the spiritual home of free-market capitalism. But is it? The Economist set out to test all three hypotheses about American business: that it is less dynamic, less global and more concentrated. The results appear nowhere near as bleak as the doom-sayers would have you believe.

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