The Trust Problem in the United States

By Eliot Jones | Go to book overview

THE TRUST PROBLEM IN THE UNITED STATES

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTORY

The term "trust" in everyday speech is quite loosely used, and it consequently conveys a different idea to different people. It is thus essential at the outset to indicate clearly the sense in which the word is used in this book.

The trust, as the term is here employed, means industrial monopoly. It does not include monopolies (whether railroad or other) in the so-called public service industries. Nor does it include pools, trade associations, and other organizations which, though they may temporarily possess some power over prices, do not interfere with the substantial independence of the concerns involved. Yet neither is the term limited to the earlier and narrower concept of monopoly as an exclusive legislative or executive grant. A trust (industrial monopoly) may be said to exist when a person, corporation, or combination owns or controls enough of the plants producing a certain articles to be able for all practical purposes to fix its price. Control over the price is the fundamental test of monopoly; it is its essential and characteristic feature. Just what percentage of the business must be handles by a trust in order that it may be able to determine the price of a given article can not be stated with precision, yet it seems fairly certain that as a general rule the production of from 70 to 80 per cent of the national supply, and possibly even less, is quite ample for price control. As was said by Mr. H. O. Havemeyer, long the head of the sugar trust: "It goes without saying that a man who produces 80 per cent. of an article can control the price by not producing; the price must advance if he

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