The Seventh Great Wave of Merger Activity

In the last 100-odd years, there have been six waves of rapid merger activity in the U.S. At the turn of the 20th century, horizontal mergers, which united companies in the same industry (such as steel or oil) and formed monopolies, were common. Another wave, this one in the 1960s, saw companies trying to diversify, with mergers that created conglomerates such as General Electric, which had businesses ranging from manufacturing equipment, to television, and even financial services. In the 1990s, deregulation and globalization led to another wave, one that was heavily concentrated in the banking and telecommunications industries.

Many people now think the economy is squarely in the middle of a seventh wave.

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