WAL-MART FALTERS. Kerry Howley notes that Wal-Mart's long-planned global takeover is being routinely repelled. Be it the resistance in South Korea or Germany, the Arkansas retailer is proving unable to navigate new cultural norms, and is either abandoning ship or resigning itself to minor market status. This, oddly enough, is a rather bad thing. Assuming relatively equal international pricing, if Wal-Mart's low prices are good for Americans, they're far better in country's with smaller GDPs per capita (which is basically everyone save Luxembourg). Indeed, the worry with Wal-Mart is that their near monopoly over the American marketplace will drive all manner of producers into countries more amenable to low-wage labor, thus undercutting America's ability to generate high-wage jobs in return for relatively minor savings in retail goods. For countries whose retailers tend to be multinationals, or whose average incomes are already far lower, Wal-Mart represents a rather impressive deal, and offers many fewer, and more indirect, downsides. Luckily for us, then, that the Bentonville's ham-handedness is souring potential converts. The larger a market Wal-Mart can command, the greater their ability to set prices and dictate domestic producer behavior. And they've already amassed far too much of that power already.
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