Occupy the SEC on bank mergers

The Herfindahl-Hirschman Index considered harmful.

Cory Doctorow
3 min readFeb 9, 2022


The Occupy the SEC logo, that is, the SEC’s crest with the word OCCUPIED diagonally superimposed on it in decaying red capital letters.

It’s a new day in America. After 40 years in a coma, antitrust law is rising again. The DoJ and FTC are both seeking advice on how to conduct “merger review” — that is, deciding whether to allow companies to grow by buying each other.

This is a dangerous practice in every industry, one that lets companies take away our self-determination while collapsing labor markets and putting the screws to their workers. Nearly everything in your grocery store is made by either Procter & Gamble or Unilever. If a little local company manages to gain a toehold, one or both of these companies will try to destroy it by pricing their rival products below the cost of producing it. If that fails, they’ll just buy the company, and issue a press release celebrating the “choice” they afford “consumers” by buying everything that succeeds.

As troublesome as typical corporate mergers are, bank mergers are far more dangerous. Too-big-to-fail banks launder their profits to buy off their regulators, letting them commit finance crimes that bring us to the brink of collapse. When that happens, they get bailouts, merge some more, and do it again.

The SEC is now seeking (long overdue, sorely needed) guidance on bank merger approvals. In response, the brilliant Occupy the SEC collective — a group of “lawyers, bank compliance experts, and financial services industry product specialists” — have filed a brilliant, scorching reply:


Writing on Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith provides important analysis, starting with the fact that the DoJ’s bank merger guidelines are illegal, as they ignore the Bank Merger Act’s strict standards:


Instead, the DoJ applies the weaker “size/concentration” analysis from the Clayton Act. The DoJ’s analysis depends on “Herfindahl-Hirschman Index” calculations, a notoriously easy-to-game, technical metric that can be used to prove that any merger is good for the public.



Cory Doctorow

Writer, blogger, activist. Blog: https://pluralistic.net; Mailing list: https://pluralistic.net/plura-list; Mastodon: @pluralistic@mamot.fr