The Big is Back
Corporate giants were on the defensive for decades. Now they have the advantage again. In 1996, in one of his most celebrated phrases, Bill Clinton declared that "the era of big government is over". He might have added that the era of big companies was over, too. The organization that defined capitalism for much of the 20th century was then in retreat, attacked by corporate raiders, harassed by shareholders and outfoxed by entrepreneurs. Today the balance of advantage may be shifting again. To a degree, the financial crisis is responsible. It has devastated the venture-capital market, the lifeblood of many young firms. Governments have been rescuing companies they consider too big to fail, such as Citigroup and General Motors. Recession is squeezing out smaller and less well-connected firms. Of course, big companies never went away.