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Beer: Price hikes, price fixing
The two dominant brewers are raising prices during a recession. Time to call the trust-busters?
 

Beer prices are rising, and “just in time for football season,” said David Schepp in DailyFinance. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser and the world’s largest brewer, and No. 2 brew conglomerate Molson Coors, the maker of Miller and Coors, have both said “higher prices are on tap.” The beer behemoths say the price hikes are needed to offset reduced demand.

“Huh?” Let’s get “a taste of this logic,” said The Wall Street Journal. “Sales are falling, unemployment is rising, so it is a good time to raise prices.” Anheuser and Coors say the “environment is ‘favorable’” to price hikes, but that only makes sense when you notice they control 80 percent of the U.S. market. You want to trade down? “They probably own that brand, too.”

Are they “testing President Obama’s tolerance” for trust-busting? said BreakingViews’ Aliza Rosenbaum and Rob Cox in The New York Times. The number of U.S. brewers fell by 90 percent from 1947 to 1995, and the regular price wars between the Big Three—Anheuser, Miller, and Coors—seem to have ended in a truce. Obama has adopted a tougher line on monopolies, and “taking on Big Beer” might even be politically popular.

What would be odd is if the brewers weren’t raising prices, said Jeremiah McWilliams in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They do it every year, and microbrew fans won’t avoid the pain, either. The coming price hikes by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have given cover to small craft brewers to “push through impressive price increases,” too.

 

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