email print
Blog Post

Fortune 500 firms 1955 v. 2017: Only 60 remain, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity

What do the companies in these three groups have in common?

Group A: American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics and National Sugar Refining.

Group B: Boeing, Campbell Soup, Colgate-Palmolive, Deere, General Motors, IBM, Kellogg, Procter and Gamble, and Whirlpool.

Group C: Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Home Depot, Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Office Depot and Target.

All of the companies in Group A were in the Fortune 500 in 1955, but not in 2017.

All of the companies in Group B were in the Fortune 500 in both 1955 and 2017.

All of the companies in Group C were in the Fortune 500 in 2017, but not 1955.

The list of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 is available here and for 2017 here (based on sales for the fiscal year ended on or before Jan. 31, 2017). Comparing the 1955 Fortune 500 companies to the 2017 Fortune 500, there are only 60 companies that appear in both lists (see companies in the graphic above). In other words, fewer than 12% of the Fortune 500 companies included in 1955 were still on the list 62 years later in 2017, and 88% of the companies from 1955 have either gone bankrupt, merged with (or were acquired by) another firm, or they still exist but have fallen from the top Fortune 500 companies (ranked by total revenues). Many of the companies on the list in 1955 are unrecognizable, forgotten companies today (e.g., Armstrong Rubber, Cone Mills, Hines Lumber, Pacific Vegetable Oil, and Riegel Textile).

Economic Lessons: The fact that nearly 9 of every 10 Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are gone, merged, or contracted demonstrates that there’s been a lot of market disruption, churning, and Schumpeterian creative destruction over the last six decades. It’s reasonable to assume that when the Fortune 500 list is released 60 years from now in 2077, almost all of today’s Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist as currently configured, having been replaced by new companies in new, emerging industries, and for that we should be extremely thankful. The constant turnover in the Fortune 500 is a positive sign of the dynamism and innovation that characterizes a vibrant consumer-oriented market economy, and that dynamic turnover is speeding up in today’s hyper-competitive global economy.

According to a 2016 report by Innosight (“Corporate Longevity: Turbulence Ahead for Large Organizations“) corporations in the S&P 500 Index in 1965 stayed in the index for an average of 33 years. By 1990, average tenure in the S&P 500 had narrowed to 20 years and is now forecast to shrink to 14 years by 2026. At the current churn rate, about half of today’s S&P 500 firms will be replaced over the next 10 years as “we enter a period of heightened volatility for leading companies across a range of industries, with the next ten years shaping up to be the most potentially turbulent in modern history” according to Innosight.

Another economic lesson to be learned from the creative destruction that results in the constant churning of Fortune 500 (and S&P 500) companies over time is that the process of market disruption is being driven by the endless pursuit of sales and profits that can only come from serving customers with low prices, high-quality products and services, and great customer service. If we think of a company’s annual sales revenues as the number of “dollar votes” it gets every year from providing goods and services to consumers, we can then appreciate the fact that the Fortune 500 companies represent the 500 companies that have generated the greatest dollar votes of confidence from us as consumers – like Walmart (No. 1 this year at $486 billion in “dollar votes” for 2017, and No. 1 in 10 of the last 13 years), Apple (No. 3 at $216 billion), ExxonMobil (No. 4 at $205 billion), CVS (No. 7 at $178 billion), GM (No. 8 at $166 billion) and Amazon (No. 12 at $136 billion).

As consumers, we should appreciate the fact that we are the ultimate beneficiaries of the Schumpeterian creative destruction that drives the dynamism of the market economy and results in a constant churning of the firms who are ultimately fighting to attract as many of our dollar votes as possible. The 500 top winners of that competitive battle in any given year are the firms in the Fortune 500, ranked not by their profits, assets or number of employees, but by what is ultimately most important in a market economy: their dollar votes (sales revenues).

Update 1: The table above has been updated to remove CVS and add Colgate-Palmolive. A company called CVS is included in Fortune’s 1955 list but it must be a different company than the current CVS Pharmacy company, which didn’t start until 1963. By mistake, I left Colgate-Palmolive off the list, it’s now been added. Thanks to Gary Hoover for noting these issues in the comments.

Update 2: Both Gary Hoover and Lyle have suggested that AT&T Technologies and the original AT&T, despite sharing essentially the same name are different companies, so I’ve removed AT&T from the table above.

Discussion (51 comments)

  1. Citizen Buddy says:

    #1, Wallmart

    Interesting that Walmart is aggressively pursuing creativity to avoid destruction. Store #8 is where the company is shopping for new ideas:

    http://www.storeno8.com/

    1. Citizen Buddy says:

      Also, Walmart looks to be developing an on-line shopping mall. For example, Lord & Taylor is getting its own dedicated space on the Walmart website:

      http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-close-to-deal-that-would-add-lord-taylor-to-its-e-commerce-site-2017-10-19

  2. Seattle Sam says:

    Any enterprise that doesn’t adapt proactively to change is bound to be destroyed. Except things run by government of course — e.g. schools.

    1. aiken_bob says:

      so true

  3. John from Flint says:

    what may be a sure sign of a company soon to fail? They buiold a shiny new HQ building

    1. Ron H. says:

      Yes, but Western Union hasn’t been on the Fortune 500 list continually between 1955 and 2017.

  4. Sprewell says:

    And what’s next is the destruction of the corporation altogether, as Gabe Newell said five years ago, “It seems fairly obvious that the Internet does a better job of organizing a bunch of individuals than General Motors or Sears does… corporations tend to be pre-internet ways of organizing production and allocating capital.” Open source software is on the leading edge of this trend, where programmers from all over the world collaborate on the linux kernel and other Android software that powers your smartphone. Uber, Lyft, and Didi replaced hundreds of local taxi companies with thousands of individual drivers, who can go pick up some fares whenever they want. What constrains this devolution right now is that while the internet has made it easy for people all over the world to collaborate without incorporating, the payment mechanisms and business models don’t really fully support it yet. Once that final step is in place, the corporation will die and there won’t be a fortune or S&P 500 anymore.

    1. Ron H. says:

      Sprewell

      Sure, but how will anyone build millions of cars or transport millions of people through the air from place to place without some sort of legal, contractual structure in place?

      1. Sprewell says:

        Does Uber not have a legal contractual structure in place for their riders and drivers, most of whom are not their employees but individual contractors? When you buy a Samsung phone, are you without legal remedies if the software breaks down? Of course there will be a contractual structure in place when the corporation is gone, it will just be different than the corporate ones you accede to now. Note that in both the current-day examples above, Uber and Samsung act as vestigial contractual frontmen for the nameless multitudes of drivers and software programmers who actually get the work done. In the near future, that last frontman will be replaced by automated contracts and exchanges, with no need for a Samsung or Uber corporation at all.

        Many jump to the wrong conclusion from the rise of large platform companies like Samsung, Uber, Google, Amazon, or Apple, that the world is stratifying into large platform companies and millions of individual contractors operating on those platforms, like Uber and their drivers. Whereas the real story is that these platform companies are the last gasp of the corporate form, as they retreat to the few processes that haven’t been fully decentralized yet, like creating platforms or writing contracts, before the decentralized wave creates its own platforms and contracts too and the corporations become completely obsolete.

        1. Ron H. says:

          Sprewell

          How would you describe an arrangement among a group of like minded individuals who join together for a common purpose, and who describe and define their relationships and common purpose through a unanimously agreed statement of purpose and binding contracts?

          1. Sprewell says:

            Communism? Constitutional democracy? Medeival apprenticeship guilds? Feudal serfs? Your description is so vague that it applied to a host of wildly disparate systems over the millenia. In any case, all those old systems are irrelevant, as the computer and the internet allow a host of new organizational structures that are obsoleting whatever it is from the past that you have in mind.

          2. Ron H. says:

            Heh! Talk about vague!

            I’m asking you for a new term, one that might be used in your vision of the brave new world to describe structured, cooperative efforts, which I’m pretty sure will exist in the future.

            Platform? No, you don’t like that one.

            Corporation? Oh, hell no!

            Surely you believe there will be some type of cooperative efforts between and among individuals. What form will those mutual agreements take? What will we call them?

            Yes, I understand that the term “corporation” is merely a convenient description of a legal framework, but what will people call their joint ventures? Surely you don’t imagine everyone working entirely on their own.

            Help me out here, Sprewell.

          3. Sprewell says:

            My point is that “structured, cooperative efforts” could include everything from communism to slavery: it is so broad a phrase in this context as to be meaningless. What does it matter what name we assign to those future efforts? What matters are their specific qualities, which I’ve already said won’t be corporations and will be decentralized, along with providing specific examples like open source software or Lyft that demonstrate the principle.

            Surely you don’t imagine everyone working entirely on their own.

            That is precisely what I am saying, yet you keep missing it. If you mean “on their own” to say they wouldn’t collaborate, now you’re just being silly, as I’ve already pointed out that practically every system known to man requires some form of collaboration. What differentiates communism from capitalism is what form that collaboration takes, and I’ve limned a decentralized market that has no corporations as the future. It is strange that you cannot imagine such a world, when that is the world our ancestors lived in for most of our history.

            To stick to the specifics and the principles rather than your hazy naming and generalizing, see this recent piece that I just stumbled upon, that lays out one vision of how the firm dies. He gives a lot of specifics and principles, and while he’s mostly right about the latter, I’m skeptical of the blockchain as the specific technical implementation. But regardless of the specific name or implementation, that kind of decentralization is about to kill off the firm and eventually its host, government.

          4. Citizen Buddy says:

            Sprewell, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I think you conflating the dispersion of the Interweb with a dissolution of companies.

            The “recent piece” you reference points out a social media botnet enabler named Kik. Very interesting company and I think they will have something very big.

            But, Kik itself is not a dispersed organization. It’s hiring of course and all the jobs are in Waterloo, Ontario or Tel Aviv.

            So, my tent pitched in Yellowstone Park will not do, and instead if hired, I would have to relocate to headquarters — and receive “generous benefits”, a competitive salary and maybe adopt a dog to come to the office with me.

            Alas, its organized as a traditional company that provides a very innovative product that capitalizes on the Net.

          5. Sprewell says:

            CB, the only “conflation” or confusion here is your own. First off, this has nothing to do with “enthusiasm,” but is a trend that is already well underway and is thus backed by cold, hard data, ie the examples I keep bringing up. And I would never use a term like “Interweb,” as they’re separate technologies, with the web likely to die out soon. I have no idea why you think a technology could be confused with a corporate trend.

            The “recent piece” you reference points out a social media botnet enabler named Kik. Very interesting company and I think they will have something very big.

            But, Kik itself is not a dispersed organization. It’s hiring of course and all the jobs are in Waterloo, Ontario or Tel Aviv.

            The piece highlights the decentralized structure of bitcoin itself, which has no one company controlling or behind it, hence all the arguing between its various camps today about how to improve it, which that author mentions. In passing, he links to the recent Kik ICO in a single sentence, because they launched their own cryptocurrency. Funny that you ignore his central point and seize on a single link from his long article.

            So, my tent pitched in Yellowstone Park will not do, and instead if hired, I would have to relocate to headquarters — and receive “generous benefits”, a competitive salary and maybe adopt a dog to come to the office with me.

            Alas, its organized as a traditional company that provides a very innovative product that capitalizes on the Net.

            You seem to have missed the entire point of their cryptocurrency, called Kin. They claim to have launched it to allow independent software developers, who do not work for the company Kik, to make money off of their platform. So while Kik/Kin is not completely decentralized like Bitcoin, it is a large step in that direction, which is why that author cited it, as one of a handful of decentralizing examples that “happen slowly.” You seem completely unaware of how they plan to use Kin and that nobody ever claimed Kik was completely decentralized. Perhaps you should look into the details more before making claims that nothing has changed.

          6. Ron H. says:

            Sprewell

            Blockchain – or something like it. Why didn’t you just say so to begin with instead of predicting the imminent demise of the corporation without offering anything to replace it. I feel like I’ve been pulling teeth here.

            You may be overly optimistic about the general level of enthusiasm for alternative forms of collaboration in the foreseeable future.

            My advice – don’t quit your day job just yet.

          7. Sprewell says:

            Ron, no, not blockchain, as I explicitly said I’m a blockchain skeptic. I merely pointed out that that author’s example of blockchain tech relies on the same decentralizing principles, which could be implemented completely differently than blockchain, say other decentralized tech like git or bit torrent.

            I have gone into great detail on the properties of what replaces the corporation in this and previous threads with you on this blog, yet you now keep insisting on a simple, one-word name for this phenomenon. That brand name doesn’t exist yet, because some of these properties, like decentralization, have already been built, while others haven’t yet, such as the dispute resolution mechanisms that author mentions. In other words, the new system is still being built, so it would be dumb to name it, when all its qualities are not finalized yet. However, we could talk about its emerging properties or those that will likely prove important, but it’s clear you two are not up to that discussion, with your need for one-word catchphrases and CB’s inability to even grasp the facts.

            You seem wholly unaware of the unpopularity of the corporation, which that author mentions, so clearly you don’t even know all the ways it’s currently being replaced, let alone understand why. Don’t let me be the one to show you the way out of the darkness of your ignorance, clearly you’re happy where you are.

          8. Kepha says:

            A corporation!

        2. Citizen Buddy says:

          Your misunderstanding is swirling like a dream, and my use of Kik was completely justified as per your reading recommendation.

          Crytocurrency is a payment method which is growing in acceptance by organized companies, but those companies are intact.

          Cheers.

          1. Sprewell says:

            The only misunderstanding that’s been pointed out factually is your own, yet you persist on slinging your own faults at others. No wonder you’re so ignorant.

            The “reading recommendation” notes that Kik is an example that these changes “happen slowly,” ie it is a step along the path to complete decentralization, yet here you are blathering about how Kik’s not completely decentralized yet.

            Kik doesn’t plan to just use Kin as yet another “payment method,” but the last link I gave you shows they plan on using it to pay independent devs to develop for their platform, just like Lyft or Samsung get a bunch of independent drivers or programmers to contribute to or build on top of their platforms. So it is perfectly in keeping with the trend I’ve pointed out of not having employees and increased decentralization.

            You’d have to be really dumb to interpret this as anything but what the author and I point out, yet you keep persisting.

          2. Ron H. says:

            Cit

            It appears that everyone except Sprewell is too dumb to understand what he’s talking about. Strange.

            And it’s an ongoing problem. First Sprewell posts a comment, and then others don’t understand what he’s talking about.

          3. Sprewell says:

            Since when are you and CB “everyone?” So far, the count is 2-2, as that author and I are on the same page, despite never having had any contact, while the two of you cannot grasp basic facts or exhibit basic reading comprehension, let alone keep up with the latest developments in decentralized tech. Why am I not surprised all my comments have flown over your heads? 😀

          4. Ron H. says:

            Sprewell

            “Everyone” appears to anyone who has ever engaged with your comments at CD. It’s too bad no one is smart enough to understand the brilliance of your superior intellect. Perhaps you should pick a better audience elsewhere.

            (that’s sarcasm in case you missed it)

            And no, you and the writer of the article you referenced are not on the same page. He’s a much better writer than you are, and he understands nuance and uncertainty.

        3. Citizen Buddy says:

          About Kin, Kik’s cryptocurrency:

          “There’s a long way to go before this theory can be a working concept. Kik is still fleshing out its advisory team and, for now, the company declined to name partners it is working with.”

          Kik looks very, very interesting, but Kin looks to be an ill advised theoretical distraction for a promising start-up.

          1. Sprewell says:

            Good to see you actually read the linked article I gave you, now let me tell you about a little thing called google, where you could have easily found this article about how Kik raised $98 million through their new cryptocurrency, Kin, last month. So it’s far from theoretical, it’s actually been put into practice, which is why the original link I gave you mentioned it.

            I don’t see much “interesting” or “promising” about Kik, whose CEO has noted in recent years that their user numbers are down, but I actually agree with you that this isn’t likely to work out. For an estabished corporation to put out a cryptocurrency for independent developers to use is like being half pregnant, a weird mishmash that can’t really work. To me, it reeks of desperation, a now-flagging startup jumping on the latest craze, cryptocurrencies, because there’s a lot of money there.

            The future will belong to fully decentralized efforts like Bitcoin itself, not these half-pregnant efforts that can’t go the whole way.

        4. Charlie Hall says:

          Uber and Bitcoin are bad examples. Uber’s entire business model requires massive lawbreaking, and Bitcoin is designed to facilitate lawbreaking.

          1. Sprewell says:

            They’re great examples, because regardless of whether you consider them lawbreaking or not, you cannot stop them. That tells you something, that the massive wave they’re riding cannot be stopped by even silly laws, just like music filesharing over the last couple decades.

    2. BM says:

      “what’s next is the destruction of the corporation altogether” – Sprewell

      Maybe an overstatement, but probably more right than wrong on direction.

      The Corporation as a legal structure will still exist, as such a structure provides some level of benefits to the owners.

      As an organizational structure, it will diminish, though where there are capital intensive businesses, it is probably the most viable / efficient way to employ mass resources.

      We may see that on a couple of dimensions the idea of Fortune 500 may be less important:

      1) As employers, as they become more efficient
      2) The share of the economy that they drive, as more of those workers find alternative income from smaller organizations, or become entrepreneurs themselves.

  5. Gary Hoover says:

    Important Caveats:

    The original 1954 Fortune 500 was only “industrial” (manufacturing) companies.
    It did not include service companies, or the biggest company of all, AT&T.

    The next year (1955), they added lists of the 50 biggest merchandisers (retailers), commercial banks, insurance companies, transportation companies, and utilities.

    Around 1990 i think, maybe earlier in the 1980s, they changed to one consolidated list.

    The rise of service industries had a big impact on the list over the years.

    It isn’t clear what the AEI did on these issues here….i need to look at the 1955 list they link to as a source (i have the original list in my library). But AT&T and CVS (formerly Melville Shoe) are in their list, but not Kroger, JC Penney, the big utilities, Citibank, and many others.

    Oddly, they left Colgate-Palmolive, one of our oldest and most durable companies, off the list. On the other hand, they list Kraft Foods, which is a very different company from the National Dairy Products of the 1950s.

    Given that, i doubt they did a close company by company look. Many companies merged but in fact were the surviving or most important entity.

    The big change in the future will be the dominance (in a global list) of companies from China, India, Brazil, etc.

    When Fortune added a list of the biggest foreign industrials in 1956, none of those companies except Royal Dutch Shell was in a league with American Giants like GM, Ford, US Steel, and Swift.

    The commenter who says corporations will soon be history, and such lists will disappear, could not be more wrong.

    Note 2:

    Errors in Changes in list of largest US companies

    I looked at their source, which was the Fortune archive of 500 lists.

    It is pretty confusing, apparently using the names of acquiring companies in place of the original. And it was made based on new company names “current” in 2005 or so.

    The Fortune archive does not adjust for the later inclusion of service companies like Sears, Citibank, and AT&T.

    I haven’t tried to figure out how CVS made their survivor list; they got it confused with someone else or they acquired some insignificant company from the 1955 list. Their real predecessor was a retailer, Melville Shoe.

    I couldn’t figure out why utility AT&T made the survivor list, since they were a utility, not an industrial.

    Turns out that was a mistake by AEI….they picked up AT&T Technologies off the 1955 Fortune list. That was the successor of Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of AT&T. I never understood why Fortune listed it, as it was a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T. Fortune did not list subsidiaries of other companies, foreign or domestic.

    By 2005, the company was spun off and called AT&T Technologies, but later became Lucent, and even later merged with the French Alcatel. To be consistent, it should not be considered a survivor. But Colgate-Palmolive and possibly others should!

    1. Mark Perry says:

      Thank you, Gary. Fortune did include a company called CVS in 1955, but it must be a different company than CVS Pharmacy today, which started in 1963. I removed CVS from the table. I apologize for leaving Colgate-Palmolive off the list by mistake, it should have been there, and I added it so it is now there. I’ve also removed AT&T from the list, reducing the number to 59.

      1. lyle says:

        It should be noted that todays AT&T is not the same company as the one before the breakup. AT&T after the breakup began to have difficulties and was taken over by Southwestern Bell in 2005. This raises a more general question, which (although not on the list is if a company is acquired and the merged company takes the name of the acquired company, but the management is still from the acquiring company is it the same company? Examples from Banking include NCNB taking over Bank of America and taking its name in 1998 and Norwest Banks taking over Wells Fargo and taking the name of Wells Fargo which was the smaller bank in 1998.
        So the larger question, since the issue is control, might be in events such as those listed above how do you determine which survives the merger acquisition?

        1. Mark Perry says:

          Thanks, I’ve removed AT&T from the list.

    2. Sprewell says:

      Given the increasingly short lifespan of these corporations that Mark points out above, the data seems to be on my side. But I’ll humor you, why do you believe the corporation will stick around?

      1. Ron H. says:

        Sprewell

        What evidence of increasingly short lifespans do you see based on the information above?

        Perhaps a better description of the list of firms above would be “Company NAMES that were on the Fortune 500 list in both 1955 and 2017”.

        1. Sprewell says:

          If you’re having trouble reading or comprehending Mark’s original post, perhaps this entire discussion is lost on you?

        2. Ron H. says:

          OK, I see what you are referring to. What’s not clear is why you believe faster churning of company ownership and structure suggests the demise of the “corporation”.

          Is it the word itself that’s troublesome?

          A rose by another name … pick one you like better.

          1. Sprewell says:

            Perhaps I was too glib, I thought you were just giving me shit and saw the part where Mark mentioned the declining lifespan of the S&P 500 firm too. Maybe you skimmed and missed it.

            As for the evidence, usually when something dies quicker and quicker, extinction is next. 😉 Actually that’s mostly a symptom of increasing competition, the real death blow is the rise of tools that replace the usual function of the firm. As the link I gave in another comment above and other comments I’ve made before note, Nobel-winner Ronald Coase laid out the definitive theory of the firm 80 years ago, when he theorized that firms save on transactions costs, for everything from communications to keeping track of people’s work output. Well, we have these great automated tools to do that nowadays, something called the computer and the internet, which is why it is so easy for you to get random Lyft drivers to come pick you up wherever you are nowadays.

            It is fairly uncontroversial these days to say that the corporation is dying as a result of these new tools, leaving a few software platform companies and millions of independent contractors, like Lyft and their drivers. The only question is whether the platform is the last bastion of the corporation or whether that is a last retreat before corporations are eradicated altogether. I’ve already answered that above.

            I don’t know why you’re so hung up on the names of things, a bunch of independent open source programmers collaborating online is not a “corporation.” If they each release a paid app on a decentralized, open app catalog, nothing about that could be called a “corporation.”

  6. Gary Hoover says:

    The Fortune source list shows CBS as doing $1.6B in 1955, an impossibility.

  7. Gary Hoover says:

    I was able to figure out the CVS and CBS details. The “1955 list” is of 1954 results. I was looking at the following year, 1955 numbers, in my notes above.

    They did not add the separate merchandisers list until the following year, 1956 (1955 results).

    Melville Shoe was in fact a $107MM company in 1954 and made their industrials list. The company both made shoes and ran shoe stores. But the next year, when they started the merchandisers list, Fortune moved them there, off the industrials list.

    So in fact it is accurate that CVS (direct descendant of Melville, founded in 1894) was on the list in 1955 (1954 results) and 2017, though not on the list from 1956 into the 1980s.

    As far as CBS, what did $1.6B in 1954 was Westinghouse. But to equate today’s CBS with the Westinghouse of the 1950s shows the folly of taking any old company and putting in the name of their acquirer, as done by Fortune in their archive. Westinghouse, a great company founded by a great man, can in no sense be considered a surviving big company.

    After the mid-80s split, AT&T Technologies had no link to AT&T. Technologies became the troubled Lucent. The real AT&T was acquired by their own former child, SBC, which was originally a sister company of Technologies (Southwestern Bell and Western Electric) under their mutual owner and parent company, AT&T.

    Hope that helps!

  8. Gary Hoover says:

    Fwiw, Ford was not on that first list, because it was still private. But with Henry’s death, it went public and was ranked #3 the next year. Biggest IPO in history at the time, created the Ford Foundation. Definitely a survivor, and never went bankrupt like some others on the list (e.g., GM, Navistar).

  9. Gary Hoover says:

    Interestingly, Berkshire Hathaway was another company that made the list the next year. Buffett did not start buying in until 1962.

  10. Carl Ebach says:

    Because of corporate welfare.

  11. Carol says:

    Had to laugh at the part about serving people with high quality goods at low prices. The reality is that most of these companies operate in oligopolies or near monopolies. They extract extra profits and maintain their positions through market power, not through awesome competition. Competition is for chumps.

    1. Ron H. says:

      But at the bottom line, ignoring government protection, they survive and grow because we consumers choose to give them our dollars.

      Have you ever shopped at Walmart against your will?

  12. Citizen Buddy says:

    Carol,

    “They extract extra profits and maintain their positions through market power, not through awesome competition.”

    So Carol, the largest corporation is Walmart, so they made a profit margin of probably 50%, or maybe 25%?

    Could it be just 3%? Hmm. Yep, only three cents on the dollar. They must be lousy monopolists.

    1. Mark Perry says:

      And now Walmart is facing stiff, intense and ruthless competition from Amazon. Where’s Walmart’s market power to quash Amazon?

  13. Mike says:

    Knowing someone who had worked at Brown Shoe I was surprised by their demise. I just looked, they changed their name to Caleres in 2015

  14. MikeL says:

    Frequent reader and rare comment contributor on this blog. After reading the first couple of sentences of this article, I was reasonably skeptical about its findings.

    Then I read the chain of comments and was disappointed with the climate of the conversation that is so typical of today’s “civil discourse”. The sarcasm, mean-spirited nature and general laziness of some of the comments is similar to watching a common entertainment “news” show or trolling on FB. It’s sad but darkly amusing to see that type of incivility seep up to more intelligent conversations where smart guys use disguised versions of the f-bomb on one another rather than making an interesting counter point that might evolve the conversation to a new light instead of a new depth. Props to Sprewell for being so thoughtful, researched and mostly dignified in the face of such….shall we say…pedigreed indignity which is all too common in our political and mainstream thought leaders….which is also an oxymoron. And thanks to Gary H who I was hoping to read more of refutation of Sprewell’s perspective than “couldn’t be more wrong.”
    Personally, I want to believe in the general direction of Sprewell’s comments but my reading of history and my professional experience does not lead me to believe that the corporation will be dead any time soon. However, Ray Dalio said something interesting earlier this month when he pointed out that the top 1/10th of the 1% now own more wealth than the bottom 90% combined and the spread between the “have’s” and “have-not’s”has never been so great.
    Nature has a long history of adjusting imbalances and sometimes it does so quite suddenly. And like it or not, everything springs from nature….even corporations and the Fortune 500. 🙂

  15. Ben Bachrach says:

    It looks Merck (MRK) was also omitted from the list. They were 212 in 1955, 69 in 2017

    1. Mark Perry says:

      Thanks, Merck & Co., Inc. (now Merck) was omitted by mistake from the list. Merck has now been added, and the post has been updated.

Comments are closed.