Biden to sign order to crack down on Big Tech, boost competition 'across the board'


CNBC 09 July, 2021 - 06:44am 20 views

Biden vows to tackle competition issues in liner shipping - Splash247

Splash 247 09 July, 2021 - 03:17am

Biden’s executive order will tap the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to come up with solutions.

The order will ask the FMC to take all possible steps to protect American exporters from the high costs imposed by the ocean carriers and to crack down on unjust and unreasonable fees, including detention and demurrage charges. Demurrage and detention charges imposed on shippers by containerlines have more than doubled over the past year.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden will direct the FMC to crack down on “unjust and unreasonable fees” in the ocean shipping industry and work with the Justice Department to investigate anticompetitive practices.

Paradoxically, the Biden directive is expected not to look into Jones Act operators, with the president a supporter of the ruling that prioritises US tonnage.

The STB, meanwhile, will be tasked with taking long-standing measures to increase competition where the railroad is monopolised, including so-called “competitive switching rules” which require a monopoly railway to grant access to its railroad under certain conditions.

Container shipping spot rates on the Shanghai – Los Angeles route soared $466 this week to stand at a record $9,631 for a feu, which is 229% higher than same period in 2020, latest data from Drewry shows.

Other nations, including China, Vietnam and South Korea, have also looked into tackling high shipping costs over the past year.

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Biden to take executive action to lower shipping costs amid rising consumer prices

NBC News 08 July, 2021 - 01:17pm

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden will direct the Federal Maritime Commission to crack down on "unjust and unreasonable fees" in the ocean shipping industry and work with the Justice Department to investigate anticompetitive practices.

The executive order will also direct the Surface Transportation Board to allow rail shippers to "more easily challenge inflated rates when there's no competition between routes," Psaki said.

Psaki said that the executive order will save American businesses money on shipping costs which in turn will lower prices for American consumers. It is unclear when Biden will actually sign the order.

Consumer habits shifted drastically last year during the height of the pandemic, leading to chaos among supply chains. As retailers try to adjust to those shifts and restock on goods, high demand for shipping space is pushing up prices.

Foreign-owned shipping alliances control more than 80 percent of the market, and consolidation among the rail industry has left many routes monopolized, also contributing to a spike in shipping costs and fees.

Freight rates across eight major East-West routes is up 333 percent from a year ago, according to a report from the Drewry World Container Index.

Consumer prices rose by 5 percent in May, the fastest year-over-year pace since 2008.

Biden targets railroads and ocean shipping with executive order on competition

Yahoo News 08 July, 2021 - 10:12am

The order will be issued in the coming days and will encourage the federal agencies regulating railroads and ocean shipping to take various actions that the White House believes will promote competition and lower prices for U.S. consumers, a source familiar with the plans told the Washington Examiner.

The Biden administration believes that both industries are suffering from growing consolidation, with three foreign-owned shipping alliances now in control of 80% of the ocean shipping market compared to two decades ago, when just 10 companies controlled only 12% of the market, the person familiar with the order said.

The person also said that freight rail is controlled by duopolies and triopolies in each region of the country and monopolies in more localized regions, with the industry becoming increasingly consolidated since the 1990s.

The coming executive order specifically encourages the Federal Maritime Commission to work with the Justice Department to open investigations and punish anti-competitive conduct. The agency and the Justice Department are furthermore planning to sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate better on the issue.

Companies have been charging unreasonable and unjust charges like fees for detention and demurrage, and the executive order will push the Federal Maritime Commission to crack down on those practices, the person said. The agency will also be encouraged to do everything possible to shield U.S. exporters from the high costs imposed by the ocean carriers.

As for railroads, the order directs the Surface Transportation Board to look into implementing competitive switching rules that would require monopolized railways to provide shippers access to its railroad with conditions. It also pushes the board to make it easier for shippers to challenge railroads’ rates when there isn’t competition between two routes, the person revealed.

The White House has been working on breaking down congestion at the country’s biggest ports. According to the person, Transportation Department officials have been working with the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York in an effort to address issues involving port congestion and supply chain disruption.

The executive order on competition is broad in nature and doesn’t just address railroads and ocean shipping but is an attempt to target the biggest businesses while encouraging more competition.

The order also targets big agribusiness by directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue new provisions under the Packers and Stockyards Act that the administration says will make it easier for farmers to bring claims, help chicken farmers from being exploited and underpaid by chicken processors, and implement anti-retaliation protections for those who speak out over bad practices.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will engage in a series of rule-makings to increase competition in agricultural industries, to boost farmers' and ranchers’ earnings, fight back against abuses of power by giant agribusiness corporations, and give farmers the right to repair their own equipment how they like,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference earlier this week.

The executive order will also direct the USDA to issue new regulations that will define when meat can have labels indicating it is a product of the United States, Psaki told reporters at the White House.

Tags: News, Railroads, Shipping, White House, Antitrust, Business, Corporations, Jen Psaki

Original Author: Zachary Halaschak

Original Location: Biden targets railroads and ocean shipping with executive order on competition

President Joe Biden's planned executive order to promote greater U.S. competition will target bank mergers by pushing the Federal Reserve and the Department of Justice to update merger guidelines and increase scrutiny of deals, according to a source familiar with the matter. It will also ask the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to issue rules giving consumers full control of their financial data to make it easier for customers to switch banks, the source said. The planned order, which is expected to be signed by Biden on Friday, is likely to chill M&A in the banking sector after a rash of deals unleashed by the Trump administration's more industry-friendly regulatory policy.

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President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Friday that includes 72 initiatives he wants over a dozen agencies to undertake to promote competition throughout the U.S. economy, according to a fact sheet released by the White House. The order goes after corporate monopolies across a broad swath of industries such as technology, banking and airlines and pushes government agencies to consider how their decisions will impact competition in an industry. "Inadequate competition holds back economic growth and innovation," the White House fact sheet said.

The Biden administration is reportedly displeased with the level of consolidation in the railroad sector, and that's weighing on the railroad stock, which is currently the target of a $33 billion acquisition. Shares of Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) fell as much as 8.7% on Thursday as investors try to figure out the odds of the railroad's planned sale winning approval from regulators. Railroads have a lousy history when it comes to consolidation.

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(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is set to ask regulators to promote competition in the ocean shipping and rail industries after consolidation led to spikes in prices, according to a person familiar with a pending executive order.Foreign-owned shipping alliances now control more than 80% of the market and mergers have left many local rail routes monopolized, pushing the White House to call on federal agencies to take steps to protect American exporters from increasing costs.The White Hous

Noncompete agreements prevent employees who leave one job from taking another potentially better paid one at a competing company. "The executive order will call on the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to adopt rules that could help to curtail (these) agreements," Psaki said.

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News report says Biden administration will seek to address consolidation, pricing by rail and ocean shipping industries - Trains

Trains Magazine 08 July, 2021 - 07:59am

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The Journal — citing a source familiar with the situation — says the administration will issue an executive order this week asking the Surface Transportation Board and Federal Maritime Commission to address the “aggressive pricing” made possible by consolidation that has left a small number of companies able to charge high fees, raising the expense for companies to ship products.

The executive order will reportedly urge the STB to move forward with a proposed rule on reciprocal or competitive switching, which would allow shippers served by only one railroad to request bids from another railroad, if one is nearby. The STB first proposed such a rule in 2016 but has taken no additional action.

The order will also ask the STB to consider proposals making it easier for shippers to challenge railroad rates, and to make it possible for shippers to create routes across multiple railroads to lower their costs.

The report says this will be just one part of what is expected to be a sweeping executive order with the goal of creating more competition throughout the economy. It will also seek to curtail non-compete agreements that limit job options and job licensing, as well as new rules to address the agricultural economy.

Curious position to take, considering the government monopoly and pervasive control taken within the healthcare industry. I fear a return to the days of the ICC.

The market works best when there is competition. The regulation before Staggers was far greater than what Biden is proposing. At that time, railroads couldn’t even lower rates without permission.

Competitive switching or allowing shippers to require a RR to interchange traffic to another increases competition and allows shipments to take more direct routes. This should result in better rates and service, and possibly diversion of traffic from trucks.

Key to making it work is allowing the RR that does the switching or gets short hauled the ability to charge a sufficient rate for these services to justify reinvestment in the right of way. This would limit how much rates would drop, to some degree.

The other question is how the current RR regulation law is written. Does the STB actually have this power without congress acting. Biden is supposed to be the President, not a king.

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Biden seeking to boost rail, sea shipping competition -White House

Reuters 08 July, 2021 - 07:21am

Biden will deliver remarks at 1:30 p.m. and sign an "executive order on promoting competition in the American economy," the administration said. The order is expected to include dozens of provisions to boost competition, officials said.

The White House said one part of the president's wide-ranging executive order is aimed at the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that shipping costs had risen dramatically during the months of the pandemic.

The order will urge the STB "to allow shippers to more easily challenge inflated rates when there is no competition between two routes."

Biden will urge the FMC "to take all possible steps to protect American exporters from the high costs imposed by the ocean carriers" and to "crack down on unjust and unreasonable fees," the White House said.

The Association of American Railroads said on Thursday that "competition remains fierce across freight providers" and warned some proposed reforms would put railroads, "an environmentally friendly option that invests $25 billion annually in infrastructure – at an untold disadvantage."

Railroad stocks fell on the news, including CSX Corp (CSX.O), Kansas City Southern (KSU.N) and Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N), which were all down more than 6%.

Biden's executive order, meant to foster competition throughout the economy, will include measures ranging from making it easier for farmers to repair their own tractors to requiring airlines to refund baggage fees for delayed luggage.

Reuters first reported some plans for the executive order last week and the White House has since rolled out additional proposals. read more

Transport costs for shipping goods have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic at a time of growing consolidation in transportation markets.

The forthcoming executive order "encourages the independent federal agencies regulating these markets to take steps to promote competition – which will save American businesses money on shipping costs. That, in turn, will lower prices for American consumers," a source told Reuters earlier.

The executive order will also address noncompete agreements for workers, licensing requirements, defense contracts, cell phones, agriculture and antitrust enforcement. read more

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WSJ News Exclusive | Biden to Target Railroads, Ocean Shipping in Executive Order

The Wall Street Journal 08 July, 2021 - 04:30am

The administration, in a sweeping executive order expected this week, will ask the Federal Maritime Commission and the Surface Transportation Board to combat what it calls a pattern of consolidation and aggressive pricing that has made it onerously expensive for American companies to transport goods to market.

The administration says the relatively small number of major players in the ocean-shipping trade and in the U.S. freight rail business has enabled companies to charge unreasonable fees.

In the case of the seven Class 1 freight railroads, consolidation has given railroads monopoly power over sections of the country where theirs are the only freight tracks, the person said.

The executive order will encourage the STB to take up a longstanding proposed rule on so-called reciprocal or competitive switching, the practice whereby shippers served by a single railroad can request bids from a nearby competing railroad if service is available.

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