Biden looks to curb the big business powers behind shipping and rail

President Joe Biden will issue an executive order on Friday asking government regulators to disrupt a pattern of consolidation — and what it calls aggressive pricing — in the ocean shipping and freight rail industries. 

The administration says a handful of companies are making it increasingly expensive for American manufacturers to ship goods.

What’s driving consolidation to begin with, and how much leverage does the government have? Mark Szakonyi of the IHS Markit Journal of Commerce said this isn’t a new problem. “Things really got bad during the financial crisis,” he said — the financial crisis that happened over a decade ago.

Maritime companies had built all these big ships, Szakonyi said, and suddenly demand tanked. Some firms lost their investment and merged. “Within roughly about five years … we went from 20 container lines to about 10,” he said.

To increase efficiency, those…

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