The U.S. Economy’s Power Shift

POWER IN THE ECONOMIES of developed countries is rapidly shifting from manufacturers to distributors and retailers.

The phenomenal success of Wal-Mart, which made the late Sam Walton one of the world’s richest men in less than twenty years, was based squarely on the chain’s controlling the operations of its main suppliers. Wal-Mart, rather than the manufacturer—a Procter & Gamble, for instance—controls what should be produced, in what product mix, in what quantities, when it should be delivered, and to which stores. Similarly, in Japan, Ito-Yokado Company controls the product mix, the manufacturing ...

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