Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

corporate-greed

Medical professionals, medical students, ACT UP New York, and their supporters protested outside Pfizer's headquarters in New York City on March 3, 2019. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'All of Us Are Paying the Price' as Corporate Profits Surge to Record-High $2 Trillion

"Astronomical corporate profits confirm what corporate executives have been telling us on earning calls over and over again: They're making a lot of money by charging people more."

Jake Johnson

Federal data published Thursday shows that nonfinancial corporate profits in the U.S. surged to an all-time record of $2 trillion in the second quarter of 2022 as companies continued jacking up prices, pushing inflation to a 40-year high to the detriment of workers and consumers.

According to figures released by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), corporate profit margins over the past three months were the widest they've been since the 1950s as ongoing price hikes pad the bottom lines of large businesses—and eat into the paychecks of employees.

"Megacorporations are a key driver of high prices—and we need bold action to rein them in."

"We can argue until the cows come home about the cause of inflation," Chris Becker, senior economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, wrote in response to the new data. "But we can't lose sight of the basic moral point that it is outrageous that corporations are seeing skyrocketing profits while purchasing power for so many American households is declining."

Bloomberg noted Thursday that "with household budgets squeezed by the rising cost of living, some firms have been able to offset any slip in demand by charging more to the customers they've retained."

"Across the economy, adjusted pretax corporate profits increased 6.1% in the April-to-June period from the prior quarter—the fastest pace in a year—after falling 2.2% in the first three months of the year," the outlet continued. "Profits are up 8.1% from a year earlier."

Rakeen Mabud, the Groundwork Collaborative's chief economist, said in a statement that the "astronomical corporate profits confirm what corporate executives have been telling us on earning calls over and over again: They're making a lot of money by charging people more, and they don't plan on bringing prices down anytime soon."

"Corporate profiteering continues in full force—and all of us are paying the price," Mabud added. "This data should be a wake-up call for policymakers. Megacorporations are a key driver of high prices—and we need bold action to rein them in."

The BEA numbers came after oil companies, food giants, and other major businesses reported record-shattering profits in the second quarter of this year as they take advantage of Russia's war on Ukraine, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and supply chain disruptions to drive up prices.

According to one recent analysis, the profits of eight top oil companies—including Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell—are up 235% compared to last year.

"Working families are still reeling from the immoral price-gougers who jacked up their expenses under the guise of inflation."

"The glaringly obvious takeaway from this new data is that market power is a key driver of rising prices," said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project. "Policymakers need to use this new information—which confirms what working families across the country know all too well—to attack concentrated corporate power immediately and aggressively across the board."

"That means levying excess profits taxes, ensuring big penalties for price-fixing, and resourcing enforcement agencies to prosecute price-gouging and other forms of corporate abuse," Miller added. "And it means banning large mergers, stock buybacks, and 'payoffs for layoffs' to help build durable market power for working people and consumers and level the playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs."

The newly enacted Inflation Reduction Act includes a corporate minimum tax, limited drug-pricing reforms, and a small levy on stock buybacks, but experts say the measure by itself is unlikely to meaningfully curtail companies' power to set prices as they please for the benefit of their executives and shareholders.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, appears poised to continue hiking interest rates aggressively in its bid to tame inflation, risking mass layoffs and a recession that would disproportionately harm ordinary people.

"While corporations enjoy record profits and CEOs get millions more in bonuses, workers are still waiting in vain for better working conditions and working families are still reeling from the immoral price-gougers who jacked up their expenses under the guise of inflation," said Helen Brosnan, executive director of Fight Corporate Monopolies.

"Our politicians have a choice: stand up to corporate monopolies and their corrupting influence or stand by while they take advantage of working people trying to pay their bills," Brosnan continued. "Until then, it's fair for voters to continue to wonder whose side you're on, and whose interests you're protecting."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·


Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·


Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo