Trump Versus Amazon

Jeff Bezos built an empire that prospers, in part, because of globalization and the free trade that President-elect Donald Trump has railed against. Trump also once said Amazon had a “huge anti-trust problem.”

President-elect Donald Trump seems to have no love for Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a newspaper that aggressively investigated the candidate during a no-holds barred campaign.

He also once said that Amazon, which dominates e-commerce, has a “huge antitrust problem,” given that the company “is controlling so much of what they’re doing.

 So what are the prospects for America’s fifth largest company by market value under an administration led by the Republican firebrand?

Bezos built an empire based, in part, on Internet sales of goodies that stem from the overseas factories that Trump has said have stolen American jobs.

Investors seemed to sniff some danger: Amazon shares fell $15.87, or 2 percent, to $771.88 Wednesday, even as the wider stock market shrugged off initial fears about a Trump presidency.

Amazon didn’t respond to a request for comment. Its annual report contains language about potential negative impacts of protectionist measures, including U.S. laws and policies “affecting trade,” that before Tuesday could have seemed boilerplate, but since Trump’s election now have some relevance.

A hostile environment in its U.S. home base would add to some of the policy issues it has run into overseas, including antitrust and tax investigations in Europe.

Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Baird, said it’s unlikely a U.S. administration could build an antitrust case against Amazon, which remains small in terms of global retail. “They’re not a majority player,” he said.

As for the potential impact of higher tariffs, “that would affect a lot of companies,” including major competitors that offer less selection than Amazon, and are therefore more vulnerable, Sebastian said.

Seattle Times business reporter

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